Monday, November 22, 2010

Dear Netflix, Enough is enough


There is only one method to make a substantial difference when trying to convince a business to change their erroneous ways: stop using their products. Leave. Unsubscribe. And make sure you let them know what you’re doing and why.

Sure, you’re just one teeny tiny person out of the whole pie. But get enough people on your side and soon, someone high up on the ladder is going to notice that a big chunk of the pie is missing.

I did some math:

There are 36 million people with hearing loss in the United States. Let’s use the $17/month subscription. Say only 10% of the 36 million subscribe to Netflix. That’s approximately $735 million a year!

Netflix announced that they’re upping their prices and adding a new option: $7.99 unlimited online streaming! I’d be excited, too, if it wasn’t for the abysmal performance on their part when it comes to making their online content accessible for the deaf.

So, I unsubscribed today.

It was difficult. I’ve been a fan of Netflix from the start. I love my movies and television shows, and I’m too lazy to get into my car and drive to the nearest Blockbuster. But I’ve had enough.

They started rolling out captions for their online content in April of this year. It’s November now. It’s been eight months since they’ve announced their intent. The results? Approximately 300 movies have been captioned for instant viewing (out of over 17,000 movies/television shows available for online streaming). Someone else says there are 10,512 movies, 21,874 programs, and 1,958 series available for streaming.

The kicker? There’s no way to search for the captioned films on Netflix's site.


So, what can you do? If you’re a Netflix member, you could join the party and unsubscribe, but be sure you tell them why.

Jessica Thurber graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology in 2006 with a BFA in Graphic Design and is the founder of Deaf Politics. Currently, she works at Snap!VRS as a Creative Director.


  1. Please note that there's no way to tell them why at the contact us link you provided at the end of your article unless you can hear. It only gives you a phone number, or access to the FAQ's on how to use Netflix. The closest I got was a form letter, that only gave me a predefined check list to choose from and no "other" option. So I've been tweeting at them on twitter. We'll see.

  2. Curious, how does the 21st C Communication Act come into play here? And is Netflix merely a distributor or also responsible for content? I don't know anything about this stuff but if they need to caption then we have a clas action lawsuit as a remedy. If they don't have to caption, then I like your suggestion of a boycott.

    Just want to know which avenue is appropriate.

  3. I made comment about it at Netflix Blog regarding this issues. Few other people mentioned it, too.

  4. Good suggestion; hit them where it hurts. I've been pestering Netflix for some sort of searchable field so I could create a search engine if they weren't going to bother to add that option to theirs. But thus far, they've been quite incommunicado on the matter.

  5. My Netflix just went up 5.00 a month even though I dropped blueray. I Have to rent the DVDs so I can get captions, Not fair!

  6. My daughter and my sister's kids are the ones at my house that watch Netflix streamed on my Tivo. They're hearing, I'm not. I have to wait for DVDs, which I've found some not to be captioned or subtitled. I am considering unsubscribing, except that the nearest video store has a small selection and the next nearest one is 30+ miles away.

  7. Jessica,

    Well written and yes I have been complain to netflix since last year, but I read your comments, and I got email from netflix that my monthly will add up that made me an easy decision. Netflix have failed to meet our satisfaction. That's shame for netflix since they made too much money and spit on our faces when we request for little thing that even free hulu already offers captions, at least most of them. it's time to make netflix lost their money from us. I just clicked to unsubscribing.

  8. The 21st Century Communications Act won't take effect for at least a year and a half. And it only covers content that had previously been shown on Television with captions. The law is a step, but far from a end-for-all.

  9. Hulu isn't that great, IMHO. For ex. only about half of Vanguard's episodes are CC. Why pick and choose some to be CC and not have CC on others? It's ridiculous.

  10. Reality check, there never has been actual census count so we do not really know number persons with hearing loss. Also, the 36 million likely includes babies, teenage, adult, and elderly. Actual % of Netflix subscribers more likely less than 1%. BUT that should not stop us from doing what we think is best. It is important unsubscribe AND tell them why. If everyone does that, they will notice.

  11. Bitch and moan. I swear you people need to get over yourselves. The world doesn't have to cater to you.

    And before you say anything, I'm deaf as well but your whiny ass attitudes are pathetic.

  12. I'd like to know what you mean by "you people" and what exactly it is we need to get over.

    The message I'm taking from your comment is this: If you suffer inaccessibility (which—by the way—is a form of oppression) then too damn bad. Don't do anything about it, just suck it up. Life's hard, move on.

    Well, I politely disagree. I'm not saying everyone should bitch and moan every time something bad happens. I'm saying, bitch and moan AND do something about it. Which is what I am trying to do.

    Unless you have a better suggestion then I'm all eyes.

  13. Well said, Jess. All of it. Every last bit of it. And you were too nice to that last anonymous post. I applaud your restraint.

  14. I have Blu-Ray Device and does support netflix, I wanted them to put on subtitle there just not only computer to be available, I wanted everything to be on blu-ray players supports, video game players devices, so if they don't do it. THEN TIME TO WAR!

  15. I am joining you in this.

  16. Editor B,

    Great post! Thank you for joining in the fight.