Netflix Produces Its Own Drama

Dennis Faas's picture

Movie rental firm Netflix had to delay deliveries by a day after its site was down for nearly 11 hours on Monday. It's thought the problem was caused by a routine weekly maintenance session, scheduled for the middle of the night, mistakenly taking place during the day. Engineers noticed the problem at 7am Pacific time and didn't get it fixed until 6pm. (Source:

Because the company's distribution centers all rely on the website to access customer data, no deliveries were possible on Monday.

A spokesman said on Tuesday that "We're shipping everything that should have been shipped yesterday as well as what we'd normally ship today." (Source:

Monday was the worst possible day for such an outage because that's the day the firm usually mails new releases to land in mailboxes on Tuesday, the same day they hit retail stores. (Source:

The delay also caused extra work for staff on Tuesday, which is already the busiest day for handling discs because so many customers watch movies at the weekend and mail them back on the Monday.

Netflix is considering whether to compensate customers hit by the delays, perhaps by crediting their accounts. It's not clear how many of the firm's 7.5 million customers will have been affected.

The incident doesn't seem to have caused major financial damage. Netflix stock did briefly fall thanks to the bad publicity, but has just hit an all-time high. It's possible the outage will help the company because customers suddenly realize how reliant they are on the service.

Website outages aren't that unusual, though it's quite rare for a major site to be down for more than an hour. In reality, this was a fairly minor problem and not a major disaster. But it does show how reliant both staff and customers of online services are on technology.

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