Netflix being forced to acknowledge the unpopularity of the decision to spin-off its mailing service in the U.S. as Qwikster is being seen as a victory for consumers who weren't as quick to dismiss the benefit of DVD distribution.
Part of the opposition to separate virtual from physical distribution surrounded the fact that not all rights are yet created equal. And the shortcomings of a stream-based service have been even more pronounced north of the border — as Netflix Canada never offered the option to begin with.
Yet the decision by CEO Reed Hastings to distance Netflix from sending discs through the mail was no doubt inspired by the realization that virtual viewers aren't as discriminating about what they watch.
While the company built its reputation on providing exposure to offbeat DVDs that were generally ignored by Blockbuster, this Netflix effect was also based on the process of ordering, anticipating and receiving a movie, rather than a random click.
Canada seemed willing to embrace a more populist approach, though, in part because of the novelty value of an American service that wasn't geo-blocked. Complaints about a limited selection didn't hinder a million people from signing up.