Concerning your statement "As for Netflix execs kowtowing to an admittedly minor outcry..."
You know it is as important for journalists to understand statistics as it is for scientists. You do not. First of all there was 5000 post limit on the netflix blog and that was filled in less than a week. Be honest about the numbers. I probably read 500 and I saw one person that did not complain and gave a slightly positive review. Secondly, you must take the 5000 comments as a sample that in some way represents the whole. If one extrapolates from my numbers to the 20 million, that means that 40,000 people out of 20 million are not unhappy - the rest are.
Of course the 5000 are not an unbiased sample. They are the ones that could find how to post a comment to NETFLIX (not a trivial undertaking) and therefore are a subsample of the customers with higher than average technical skills. They are superior in assessing whether the change is positive. As for those people who do not spend their lives on the computer - well they are completely screwed by the new UI. At least the vocal component can find 1)workaraounds and 2) other instant play companies. They will drift away from NETFLIX in time and you will get a better feel for the numbers. Those that are at the mercy of NETFLIX will lose interest if they can not find a way to locate movies they want. My prediction.
Geez. Do some journalism and investigate the differences between the
two UI's and inform your readers.
The real question is why NETFLIX decided to do this. They have smart computer folks working for them - to whom it would be obvious that the new UI is a severe downgrade. This really is not questioned. So why? I can only guess. Providing sophisticated indexing and the software to use it is labor intensive. Perhaps they need an interface that is automatic and in no need of skilled labor to maintain.
They are probably in need of downsizing like so many other companies. The execs
are trying to save money. I personally think it is a bad financial decision. I investigated other sites as soon as NETFLIX made their change. And even though NETFLIX is still probably better (not much now) I will be leaving NETFLIX for another service. Not because the quality is less than the others but when a company ignores their customers for an extra penny I can not in good faith support such ethics.
Time will tell whether your claim of "minor" outcry is true. Regardless, you (nor I) have any idea at this point.