Netflix Pricing Changes: What Now?
I flinched when Netflix raised its monthly rate for DVD + Streaming from $8.99 to $9.99. Briefly I pondered whether I should discontinue one or the other; I decided to stick with the combination service. But when the company upped its prices for the same services to $16 (okay, $15.98) just months later, I was upset. The change represents an overall +70% increase in less than a year, making me wonder about the stability of future pricing and rethinking the value of the service altogether. (See also: The Psychology of Pricing)
Decision: DVD or Streaming?
When I told my family that Netflix prices were increasing, I gave them the option of choosing DVD or Streaming (rather than both). The fast, unanimous decision was "streaming."
The truth is that we use the streaming option more often because of its convenience, despite the deeper selection available on DVD.
Still, I am torn. Having never been a big movie-goer, I saw Netflix as my ticket to seeing the movies that I had missed in the past couple of decades, partly because of other priorities and partly because of the expense of viewing first-run movies in the theater. And, after having children, I rarely visited the movie-and-game-rental stores, opting to purchase children’s titles like the Veggie Tales series and watching these over and over.
As my children turned into teenagers, they became more interested in current movies, and I decided I finally had time for them myself. But my first visit to the nearest Blockbuster location became my last, as the store closed soon after my initial rental.
Soon, with the help of my youngest son (who has the family’s biggest appetite for culture and entertainment), I discovered streaming video. I decided to try Netflix, as its monthly price was below the typical expense of a movie ticket. Since then, we have viewed some movies on DVD, but mostly watched television series and full-length movies through the streaming option. So, when the email about the price increase came, the decision to drop the DVDs was straightforward, based on actual usage rather than predictions of future habits.
Possible Glitch: Cost of Bandwidth
The cost of a subscription to Netflix or a similar service is just one component of a total entertainment package. Expenses for over-the-cap usage of bandwidth can also increase, as Internet service providers move to change how they bill Internet usage (even as they insist that few customers will be affected). Likewise, those who stream movies to mobile devices may see higher costs associated with limited data plans.
For now, bandwidth issues may not be a factor affecting expenses. But as consumption-based billing or usage-based billing becomes more prevalent, overall expenses will rise and decisions will become more complicated.
More Entertainment Options
Having been new to streaming content specifically and entertainment options in general, I didn’t realize that there were so many choices. According to a Wise Bread post on ways to watch TV and movies without cable and a recent article by Consumer Reports on Netflix alternatives, consumers have plenty of choices. Both sources mention Amazon Prime, which offers free access to thousands of titles as a benefit to its flat-rate membership program for free-and-fast shipping of Amazon.com orders.
Even more options for entertainment via DVD and/or streaming:
- Watch streaming movies on a pay-per-view plan, rather than unlimited option (great if you watch occasionally)
- Switch back and forth from streaming-only to DVD-only plans in order to view movies from both categories
- Rent DVDs at the library (DVDs are free at my library, but the selection is limited)
- Buy and swap DVDs using PaperbackSwap's sister company Swap-A-DVD (I have used Paperback Swap, but not the DVD service)
Did the recent Netflix price increase affect you? What is next for you in terms of movie viewing?