The cost of a Netflix subscription is getting a 10% hike. In the short term, only new subscribers are affected; they’ll now pay $9.99 for the standard monthly streaming plan, up a dollar from the previous $8.99 price. Existing customers get a short-term reprieve; they’ll get to keep their current plan until October 2016.
Essentially Netflix (and now its customers) are the victims of their success. Netflix’s massive expansion and customer base means more content companies have gotten into the streaming space (like HBO— who’ve now got their own standalone HBO NOW service, which is still $5 more a month than Netflix— and Hulu, which recently introduced a commercial-free plan that costs $11.99 a month). Increased competition also means increased prices for acquired content, and Netflix is shelling out more and more to satisfy their customers hunger for new film and TV shows. The Wall Street Journal notes that the company is set to pay Disney some $300 million next year. And that’s just one deal of many.
An extra buck a month (or a whopping $12 a year) won’t break anyone’s bank account, but enough $1 increases eventually could make people reconsider their streaming priorities. Netflix’s service is ubiquitous, but they better start spending their money on more movies to keep me interested. Their TV selection’s strong, but increasingly I find myself frustrated by the lack of available movies that I want to watch.
Recently, I was looking for Edward Zwick films — literally anything he had directed — as part of my preparations to lead a discussion group about Pawn Sacrifice. Netflix had absolutely nothing, and equally annoying, they didn’t even have a director’s page for him. It was as if the guy had never existed. (I wasn’t a huge fan of Defiance either, but c’mon; that seems extreme.) Hopefully Netflix invests this new revenue not just in new content, but also in clearer and smarter website architecture. It can’t keep pretending the movies it doesn’t have don’t exist — at least not if it wants to keep me as a satisfied customer.