Netflix CEO tries to make up for insulting Americans by proposing a cheaper plan

Maybe it's an act of contrition on Netflix CEO Reed Hastings' part after he told The Hollywood Reporter that Americans are so "self-absorbed" that they wouldn't even notice that they pay $1 more than Canadians do for their monthly fix of Netflix movies. Hasting recently announced that, in the coming months, Americans may be able to enjoy the savings that our neighbors to the North do by opting for a streaming-only plan.

Currently, Americans pay $8.99 a month to rent one DVD at a time through the mail and get unlimited video streaming. If Netflix offers the same deal to Americans as it does in Canada -- $7.99 a month for unlimited streaming video -- it's a buck saved and no trips to the mailbox. But that $1 savings might not be enough to stop subscribers from canceling after Reed Hastings spoke with The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday as Netflix launched in Canada.

The Hollywood Reporter: "Are you concerned that American Netflix subscribers will look north and ask for the same discount Canadians get at $7.99?"

Hastings:
"How much has it been your experience that Americans follow what happens in the world? It's something we'll monitor, but Americans are somewhat self-absorbed."

Hastings apologized later, although not in a press release, but buried on Netflix's blog. "My Big American Foot is in my mouth," Hastings wrote Thursday. "Yesterday, I made an awkward joke with a reporter in Toronto about Americans (like me) being self-absorbed relative to Netflix pricing in Canada. I was wrong to have made the joke, and I do not believe that one of the most philanthropically-minded nations in the world (America) is self-absorbed or full of self-absorbed people. The pricing Netflix is offering in Canada, $7.99 per month, does not include any DVD-by-mail option, and that is why it is cheaper than our $8.99 USA plan which has both DVD-by-mail and streaming in one plan. We are looking at adding a streaming-only option for the USA over the coming months. My apologies to anyone offended by my self-absorbed comment."

It's difficult to believe what he said was a joke. Insulting customers is always a bad idea, but at least it wasn't as bad as the comments uttered by former BP CEO Tony Hayward. "We're sorry for the massive disruption it's caused to their lives," Hayward said when the magnitude of the Gulf oil spill was starting to come to light."There's no one who wants this thing over more than I do, I'd like my life back."

Compared to that PR nightmare, Hastings may not have that much to worry about.

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