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1062

How Become Both Local and National?
Topic by: FGaipa
Posted: August 20, 2007 - 1:45 PM PDT
Last Reply: August 21, 2007 - 7:04 PM PDT

author topic: How Become Both Local and National?
FGaipa
post #1  on August 20, 2007 - 1:45 PM PDT  
I'm not really talking about contacting GC, so a new thread:
> On August 18, 2007 - 10:24 AM PDT woozy wrote:
> You're surprised? Netflix is freakin' huge. I don't know how many subscribers GC has. I'd probably be surprised the other way in that they have more than I thought. I imagine Netflix is at least 500 or 1000 times bigger. I'd imagine NF subscribers numbering in the millions (at least hundreds of thousands) and I'd imagine GC in the thousands (10s of thousands at most)
> ---------------------------------

NF's just short of 7 million, Blockbuster half that. One percent of those two and all the smaller riffraff comes to over a hundred thousand. I hope GC has at least that. Google a bit and you'll find complaints from East Coast GCers as far back as 2003. To grow, GC had, somehow, to break its status quo.

Like Woozy I despise voice mail queues, no matter what courtesies wait once I fathom the maze. But for any who haven't already read the Times piece about NF trying for patience, downright hominess really, in its battle with Blockbuster, here's the link: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/16/business/16netflix.html.

GC's email support has ranged from excellent to spotty to excellent. Its Public Discussions I love, while its user comment system for individual disks feels inferior to the comment/discussion combo unique to each film at IMDB. A few weeks ago I received through IMDB an email about my comment for Elio Petri's (1979) Le Buone notizie from an Italian who'd worked nearby and watched the outdoor filming. GC's too small to give me such unexpected rewards, so I've never placed a review here. GC's articles and interviews, though I hardly ever look seldom finding anything new, and its community involvement, support for local film fests, etc., seem exemplary.

I've always found it difficult to believe in things, sometimes struggle even for agnosticism, yet make it to church any Sunday I don't oversleep, just to see the kaleidoscope of people and with a prayer to the ether that I'll suffer something better than another Cliff's Notes homily. What's kept me so far with GC, is that same nonsensical urge to follow out a story, witness the cliffhanger's resolution as a member.

NF's attempt at hominess made me ask, how does an organization like GC grow without losing its grassroots aura? Van Nuys looks like a carefully thought out, and not all that unreasonable, attempt to make the best of finite resources. (Where, nationally, to place the one and only distribution center GC currently can afford?) Without geographically scaled membership info, however loudly we cry about individual or even Bay Area service, I'm incompetent to judge the business sense of it. GC's heart seems to reside in its come one come all message boards where the founder and owner's just another voice.

Surely the majority of us posting are Californians. Outsiders probably have the same impression. When they do identify themselves, at least a few have sounded almost apologetic like house guests witnessing a family squabble.

So might GC capitalize on its strength by hosting isolated Eastern and maybe Midwestern message boards with posters assigned a region by zip code? Instead of the single Web identity NF maintains despite its multiple distribution centers, try a GC East moderated by staff living east: GC West to GC East as Amazon US to Amazon, say, Canada. In library school I pushed the notion that each city library sponsor its own message board with a library card ID number required to post, so that patrons could hold locally tinged book discussions. Professors and librarians dismiss the idea, whether because it looks like an extra task or for fear of finding themselves out of the readers' advisory loop. So I goaded even farther: Add a new type reference service, where patrons and librarians, shoulder to shoulder online, read and answer publicly posted reference queries. I started a thread, IMDB again, about the insanely rapid speech displayed by debaters in "Rocket Science" and quickly learned more, with more immediacy, from debaters, instructors, and debate judges than I might have third hand from a reference librarian. Only recently did I realize that, to the extent that it is local, GC is my library local message boards notion in action. If GC's identity resides significantly the locality of its message boards, spread them around. Instead of growing them, multiply them. Make them local for the remote subscribers a growing GC needs to target.

Or consider the Whole Foods model that purports locally independent (but to this customer nearly indistinguishable) market teams and management? Beyond regionally separate message boards, should GC somewhere down the line evolve semi-independent regional GCs, maybe with slightly differing collections built on local demand, connected by a sort of inter-GC loan system for truly rare disks? [Off topic: I'd make such disks non-queue-able special orders with special one-time charges.] Of course each GC would have its own GC-tinged message boards. Might a fragmented (sorry, word, trying to avoid "cellular") GC add to the obvious geographic cells esoteric pan-geographic efforts like other-region-code providers or strictly educational product? Buy or offer buy-ins to smaller existing companies. There's an ethical question comes up periodically on the librarians' listserv Videolib: Can we, as a public or academic library, rent NF or GC and then loan them out? Sublets (!) to computer-incapable library patrons? I have no idea what the legal answer is. Figure it out and resolve the legality for one more market segment.

What I'm trying to come up with, and this is speed writing, gotta get ready for work, I'll rue my typos and any angry librarians or Whole Fooders tomorrow, is ways to be simultaneously local and national, ways to match without (like Democrats aping Republicans or Republicans aping terrorists) becoming NF.

Anyone else?

fg
woozy
post #2  on August 20, 2007 - 3:32 PM PDT  
Well, as one who doesn't particularly believe Netflix is *evil* per se, I'd argue that DVD via mail is a "natural monopoly" and GC arrived on the scene too late.

Hmm, now tht I write that I see I don't believe it but the very nature of DVD via mail is a direct corelation that size is the sole determinate of quality and, well, GC is just too small.

Hmmm, maybe what I believe is that internet and via mail businesses, as opposed to brick and morter, have only three options for success: 1) Obequity (everyone's heard of Craig's List. Nobody's heard of woozy's list that does the exact same thing) 2)Size/one-stop shopping (I can get everything from amazon so I don't need to keep a list of other places and why should I when I get everything from amazon) 3) Niche (spankingtoons.com is the *only* place to get images of spanking comic books).

Niche with DVDs is pretty hard when sites with size can (and try) to have everything. Niche is particularly hard if you are small as cost returns are just brutal.

I think to succeed one absolutely must have size at first (by size I mean inventory and centers; not customers). Then to gain obequity one can advertise or offer a convenient extra services (this is why myspace is more successful than friendster) but you can not lack in any way (this is why friendster is less popular than myspace). The "hominess" of Netflix is fine but it doesn't really interest me. I ... hmmm, I guess if I were to consider Netflix vs. Blockbuster the "hominess" does effect why I chose Netflix.

Hmmm, to be honest:

Why I'm with Netflix:
1) "Size" (i.e. inventory and centers)
2) Obequity (I started with Netflix; they have branded themselves as being equivalent to DVD via mail over internet so any competitor would have to convince me thay are a serious option.)
3) Positive name association. (Like it or not Netflix has branded the entire DvD via mail as their idea and a good one at that. Hence even though they may be the red evil empire I still think of them as the guys who thought the internet was a good medium to distribute a *comprehensive* {"size" again) selection out.

Why I'd leave Netflix:
1)If anyone of equal "size" outdoes them in other ways (cheaper, better interface, better browsing, better features) So far I have no reason to believe anyone does. (I only discovered GC four years back when NF temp. raised prices {then imediately lowered them} and I wanted to search for alternates.)
2) Negative name association. (They've walmartized themselves.)

Why I'm with Greencine:
1) Positive Name association: They're small! They're earnest! They're *fun*!!! They're quirky! They're smart! They're personal! They're the underdog! They have all the esoteric titles Netflix is too scared or mainstream too carry (even though that's not in the least bit true and hasn't been for nearly four years)! etc...

(I'm sorry to admit all their extra services such as primars, newsletters, showings, etc. impress me in showing that GC has these but not in my actually wanting to use them. Hence they all fall under positive name association.)

2) Message Board: I'm *utterly* and hopelessly addicted to them.

Why I might leave them
1) Lack of Size

Why I might consider BlockBuster (but probably won't)
1) Obequity promotion. (Hmmm, I'm now reading that BB and NF are the top two. I've never really consider BB as in the picture but perhaps I should see what it is.)
2) Possible improvement. (Movie at the time you feel like it and waiting a whole, *gasp*, two days between disks is the biggest problem I've found with Netflix as opposed to video stores. Blockbuster has brick and morter stores which may alieviate that. Who knows; maybe if I look their interface may be better as well.)
(So far those two are *not* enough to make me consider even looking at BB though.)

Why I'm reluctant to consider BB
1) *EXCEEDINGLY* negative name association: Unlike Netflix and even Barnes & Noble I *do* consider BlockBuster evil incarnate. I don't know if they still refuse to carry "The Last Temptation of Christ" and other controversial films (it seems hard to continue such a policy in the Internet world), NC-17 films, nor whether they still release their own Blockbuster only sanitized versions of films, but it'll take a hell of a lot for them to ever wash the taste of *those* icky policies out of my mouth.
2) Possible lack of size. If BB doesn't have controversial or NC-17 films or replaces sanitized versions rather than theatrical I can't consider their "size" complete.

Hmmm, so what's my point? Not sure. GC *has* to grow (center and inventory wise although it could "grow" with a small and local customer base). GC is very weak in obequity right now but has positive name association association out the wazoo. Get the "size" and one feature (doesn't matter which) down really, really good and GC with it's positive name association would be a contender.
Catullus
post #3  on August 20, 2007 - 8:51 PM PDT  
last I checked (and it hasn't been recent) blockbuster still sanitizes their movies and there isn't a word negative enough to describe how incredibly much they suck.

Just another reason to be down on religion and its negative influence on those of us who know better lives.

Down with imaginary friends :D
woozy
post #4  on August 20, 2007 - 10:12 PM PDT  
> On August 20, 2007 - 8:51 PM PDT Catullus wrote:
> ---------------------------------
...
>
> Just another reason to be down on religion and its negative influence on those of us who know better lives.
>
> Down with imaginary friends :D
> ---------------------------------

My, how controversial!

Have you seen this yet?

FGaipa
post #5  on August 21, 2007 - 1:05 PM PDT  
> On August 20, 2007 - 3:32 PM PDT woozy wrote:

> Why I'm with Greencine: ...

> 2) Message Board: I'm *utterly* and hopelessly addicted to them.

So it's thanks to these message boards that GC still receives a portion of your outlay? If you were running GC, how would you turn that to your advantage? How would you turn all the Woozys' liking of your message boards into long term DVD rental success?

fg
woozy
post #6  on August 21, 2007 - 2:00 PM PDT  
> On August 21, 2007 - 1:05 PM PDT FGaipa wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> > On August 20, 2007 - 3:32 PM PDT woozy wrote:
>
> > Why I'm with Greencine: ...
>
> > 2) Message Board: I'm *utterly* and hopelessly addicted to them.
>
> So it's thanks to these message boards that GC still receives a portion of your outlay? If you were running GC, how would you turn that to your advantage? How would you turn all the Woozys' liking of your message boards into long term DVD rental success?
>
> fg
> ---------------------------------

Hire a bunch of board babes to giggle and flirt and talk about boobs. Whenever talk on the boards becomes serious grumbling hire them to where GC t-shirts and have them stand in conspicuous places where the grumblers might stumble into seeing them.

I dunno that they can make a strategy. Netflix could probably make a bundle subsidizing franchises so someone would create a DVD that is exactly like GC end with the same small staff and small numbers of members but is in actuality simply a skin for Netflix. Kinda cynical but I'm pretty sure it'd be successful.
speakreflection
post #7  on August 21, 2007 - 7:04 PM PDT  
> On August 20, 2007 - 1:45 PM PDT FGaipa wrote:
> ---------------------------------

> Or consider the Whole Foods model that purports locally independent (but to this customer nearly indistinguishable) market teams and management?

Whole Foods is an interesting point. I guess cause I currently work for Wild Oats in Portland, Maine. They are currently buying us (or at least trying hard). They do stress their Local products (although at last count, although we are 1/3 of their size, we carry 3 times as many local products), but it's all a show. They are trying to monopolize this fringe, organic grocery genre.

Translate that to the NF/GC debate. Netflix is trying to battle Wal-Mart and Blockbuster, i'm sure GC is in their sights, but very far down on the list of competitors. Which should leave GC with the ability to work magic as a indie/mom n pop style place. BUT as with my company. Distribution is the key element here. If you do not have reliable distribution to A. Keep current subscribers happy and B. Allow your company to grow. Then there is nothing but bad times ahead.
As i've said before, I don't mind the wait (my life is wrecked with time limits anyways), but if I lived in Reno still or back in Sonoma County and had to wait more than 5 days for a turnaround (when it would take me less than a day to drive down and give them my movie by hand), then I would be pissed to high hell.
None of this will make me go to NF though. I don't support big style companies that get by through mass marketing (No I will not be moving on over to Whole Foods), if GC doesn't fix things up in a few months and as my schedule allows me to watch movies more often. I would probably just cancel and start going to my local indie movie theatre and video store.
Just my rambling 2 cents.
We need GC to be more like TJ's than NF.

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