Netflix has taken its biggest step so far towards being primarily a streaming company, with ‘Watch Instantly’ now costing as much on its own as it costs to get DVDs delivered to the door.
Netflix’ subscription plans have changed and significantly over the years, especially when its ‘Watch Instantly’ streaming service came into being.
However, today represents the biggest change so far, with the streaming and DVDs-by-mail portions of the business being separated completely. Much to the chagrin of customers who realize they’re now facing much higher charges or losing one of the two options.
At the moment the default (and by far the most popular) subscription plan on Netflix is $9.99-per-month for unlimited DVDs (one at a time) and unlimited streaming. That is now being scrapped, and in its place is unlimited DVDs for $7.99-per-month and unlimited streaming also for $7.99-per-month.
While this will work out cheaper for those who want one or the other, those who want both will now be paying $15.96-per-month for the privilege. For new members these changes are immediate, existing members have until September 1.
This would be fine if the same content was available on both options, but it isn’t. ‘Watch Instantly’ doesn’t have the new releases, and probably never will because the studios will charge an absolute fortune for Netflix to obtain the content so soon after release. If at all.
Unsurprisingly, many customers are not happy with the changes. They see through the spin that this is about customer choice and realize this is more about gouging the price for those who would like the full range of options Netflix offers.
Some have even stated they would pay a lot more for the streaming-only option if it included the full catalog, including new releases. Unfortunately that will never happen because Hollywood and the movie studios want to keep a nice, firm grip on the business.
It’s pretty clear Netflix now sees itself as a Web streaming company which also caters for those who prefer physical media. But for how long that second part of the equation will exist I haven’t a clue. I’d personally see this as the first stage of a gradual phasing out of DVDs-by-mail.
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