By Harry McCracken | Tuesday, July 12, 2011 at 11:28 am
Netflix is announcing some pricing changes which are kind of confusing. The upshot seems to be this: if (like me) you want streaming access but not DVDs, you’ll continue to pay a reasonable $7.99 a month. If you want the ability to rent one DVD at a time and don’t care about streaming, you’ll now also be eligible for a $7.99 plan. But if you want streaming and DVDs–which, until recently, was the only option you had–you’ll pay more than you would have in the past.
For instance, if you want streaming plus one DVD, you’ll pay $7.99+$7.99, or $15.98–up from only $9.99. Streaming plus two DVDs is now $19.98, up from $16.99.
In explaining this, Netflix’s Jessie Becker says “With this change, we will no longer offer a plan that includes both unlimited streaming and DVDs by mail. ” I’m not sure why she phrases it that way, since my lineup of plan options shows some that sure look like they offer unlimited streaming and DVDs:
The change isn’t that streaming-plus-DVD plans don’t exist anymore: it’s that they cost much more than in the past.
Netflix plans and pricing have been in flux lately–back in November, the company introduced the $7.99 streaming-only plan and increased the cost of plans that include DVDs by $1 a month. At that time, it said that it wasn’t offering a DVD-only plan because it was focusing its efforts on making streaming better, an explanation that I couldn’t quite parse. Now it says that it’s realized that people still want DVDs, and that the $7.99 plan lets them get unlimited DVDs (but no streaming) at the lowest cost to date. But it doesn’t directly explain why it’s raising other rates. It just makes oblique references to the old pricing not making “great financial sense” and the new pricing “better reflect(ing) the costs of each.” A truly clear explanation of the changes would explicitly say that many people will pay more, and explain the rationale behind the hike.
Anyhow, Netflix is a neat company that provides a neat service. And I do admire the fact that it’s letting customers debate the news on Facebook and in the comments on the blog post--where a lot of angry people are threatening to take their business to Blockbuster.