The United States Postal Service is considering dropping Saturday delivery, and it seems that Netflix, the popular DVD mailing site, couldn’t be happier.
The postal service argues that cutting back on delivery will save a few billion dollars every year and, after all, why is that such a bad thing in an age when people rely on e-mail and twittering much more than a postage stamp?
It seems that the USPS forgot about the one remaining reason why people might actually be excited to check their mailbox throughout the week: Netflix movies.
In fact, without the postal service, Netflix would have never made it as a company. Utilizing the mail to quickly ship and deliver millions of DVDs across the country (and back) was the crux of the service.
After all, it was only just this past spring that Netflix introduced Saturday delivery for the first time, which expanded upon the company’s five-day work week.
So why then is Netflix ready to abandon Saturday mail delivery so soon after introducing it?
For one thing, Netflix knew about the postal service’s pending suggestion to Congress about eliminating delivery one day a week, but at that time one of the days under consideration was Tuesday.
Either way, it would be best for Netflix to be prepared for whichever day would be cut by adding one more service day anyway.
Perhaps it even seemed like a good idea that Saturday delivery was being discussed for the slaughter. Netflix customers might get used to the new delivery day and express their outrage with the USPS before any change actually happened.
In retrospect, Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos seemed content with whatever choice was made at the time. Sarandos said that Netflix’s 100+ distribution centers would keep the company prepared if service was reduced by a day.
“It’s one of those things you have to follow, that you can’t control,” Sarandos said, speaking at the Future of Packaged Media conference in Los Angeles this past February.
However, the failure of the postal service is something that Netflix has been planning for all along. Six months have passed since the conference, and Netflix is now suspiciously mum on the topic.
“While we are aware of talk about the USPS reducing Saturday, we are declining to comment on it,” said Steve Swasey, Vice President of Corporate Communications for Netflix.
Perhaps six months gave the company time to reconsider the outcome of such a cutback from the USPS. Maybe, Netflix realized, dropping Saturday delivery isn’t such a bad thing after all.
With Saturdays out of the equation, Netflix would have one more reason to encourage customers to try its movies-on-demand service.
Netflix long ago concluded that it can’t rely on DVDs forever while consumers increasingly view video online. Therefore the company created an all-you-can-watch buffet of films on the Internet, which has in turn become a more and more attractive perquisite of the service.
Cutting Saturday deliveries means that Netflix can save money by cutting a workday, and can even save more on delivery costs, all while boosting usage of the company’s online product.
Customers, Netflix reasons, would have more incentive to boost their Internet speeds and become addicted to the much more savory on-demand service, where the traditional associated costs (like packaging and shipping) don’t exist at all.
In fact, Netflix sees Saturday delivery cuts as a very good thing – a gateway to the less costly online product. It just doesn’t want you to know.