Hey Netflix: Miramax asks me about my feelings

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About a month ago, I wrote about my frustration with Netflix's brazen price increase and the movie-rental company's subsequent indifference to fan outrage. In the piece, I explain why a la carte rental companies like Vudu might ultimately win over Netflix consumers. Yesterday, I was pleased to read that Miramax has added another industry alternative to Netflix's restrictive and expensive membership plans.

Miramax launched a Facebook app that enables consumers to watch movie clips and feature-length films, play games and share experiences with the Facebook community, according to a Miramax blog post. The company claims 50 million Facebookers interact with the company, either by “liking” its fan page or by mentioning a movie title on a profile page, among other interactions. These consumers should serve as a solid customer base as the company attempts to “build our reach to [more than] 150 million Facebook friends within the next 18 months.”

Netflix and Miramax partner on several ventures, so it would be unwise for me to hyperbolize the launch as some catastrophic blow to Netflix's industry dominance. But there was a passage in the piece I'd love to cite here in case someone in Netflix's marketing or customer service department happens to read this post:

But more than this — notice the word beta.  I know you don't hear that word a lot from movie studios. Usually, we premiere a film after working on it for years, see how it does over a weekend or two and then move on to the next project — for those in the technology world this must sound like a crazy business…

Our goal in building this app in just eight short weeks (with the help of Ooyala and AllDigital) is to emulate what Facebook does better than any company in the world — don't wait for perfection; launch and then iterate, iterate and iterate again. We encourage you to track our progress and come back to see fresh content, improved user functionality and information on other Miramax initiatives, such as new films or TV shows.  And tell us what you think on our fan page www.facebook.com/miramax or @Miramax on Twitter.

For those of us who cover CRM, it's always refreshing to read about a company that a.) asks consumers for advice and b.) admits the potential for imperfection. It's how companies like Dell, JetBlue and Zappos earned reputations for excellent customer service. The Miramax app might not put a dent in Netflix's earnings but perhaps it'll further humble a company that has until now shown itself to be stubborn and unwilling to listen to its consumers.

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