Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Netflix Drama

By now you've undoubtably heard or been affected by the Netflix plan hike. In essense, they separated their streaming and DVDs into two plans and raised prices for both.

Here's the email I got earlier this week:

We are separating unlimited DVDs by mail and unlimited streaming into two separate plans to better reflect the costs of each. Now our members have a choice: a streaming only plan, a DVD only plan, or both.

Your current $14.99 a month membership for unlimited streaming and unlimited DVDs will be split into 2 distinct plans:

Plan 1: Unlimited Streaming (no DVDs) for $7.99 a month
Plan 2: Unlimited DVDs, 2 out at-a-time (no streaming) for $11.99 a month

Your price for getting both of these plans will be $19.98 a month ($7.99 + $11.99). You don't need to do anything to continue your memberships for both unlimited streaming and unlimited DVDs.

These prices will start for charges on or after September 1, 2011.

You can easily change or cancel your unlimited streaming plan, unlimited DVD plan, or both, by going to the Plan Change page in Your Account.

We realize you have many choices for home entertainment, and we thank you for your business. As always, if you have questions, please feel free to call us at 1-888-357-1516.

–The Netflix Team

There are a lot of people utterly rankled by this price increase.  I have a couple theories on why this is:
  • In this economy, people are holding litte luxuries even nearer and dearer to their hearts than in previous years. A $5 increase on something that's already "an extra" is too great a hit for some.  And it feels personal, no less, because we've cut and cut and cut - where does it end?
  • There is mounting frustration that our goodies and services are continuing to increase, but our salaries have become stagnant. Everything is getting more expensive, except we don't have room to meet those increases.
  • Not everyone has great mail or download capabilities. There are some who can barely get 1 DVD a week or streaming is a joke.  With already limited service, a price jump is laughable.

For me personally, I'm going to eat the increase.  It doesn't bother me. 

But here's the thing - we don't have cable at all.  I mean, we physically have a TV, but no plan whatsoever.  So our entertainment budget is pretty low each month - maybe $40 between Netflix, the ocassional Redbox, and whenever we make it to the theater.  And that's probably a high estimate.

I used to be a devout Family Video customer. I love walking into a video store and browsing covers. You can find the best stuff that way.  But we started to have more and more disk problems with them and their prices weren't super great for new releases. Now I have to go 20 minutes out of my way to get to a store, so that's kind of pointless.

Redbox is a nice deal for new movies and I like the price - $1 a day is great. We have one at our HyVee, which is not only 7 minutes away but along my work route. But you only have access to new releases and they rotate them out after a couple of months. I've also found that the dispenser will have a photo of a movie but it sometimes won't be available, which is very irksome when that's the only one you want.

I enjoy Netflix because of the variety they offer.  I get exposed to movies that I wouldn't before, particularly those that are hard to track down, foreign, independent, and documentaries.  It's also invaluable to me while teaching film courses (as I am right now).

If you're among those who can't stomach the increase and are mulling over dropping Netflix, here are some alternatives to consider.

Have you used any of these?

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