Netflix to launch 'family plan'
Why settle for streaming only 1 movie when you can watch multiple shows at once on your phone, TV and video game console?
By Anthony John Agnello, Consumer and Technology Writer
As Netflix (NFLX) has grown dramatically over the past two years, analysts and industry pundits have wondered repeatedly when the streaming video company would hit a glass ceiling: No way could Netflix shares pass $200. No way could the company's subscriber base reach 20 million. No way could it continue to sign new content partners.
Well, Netflix has met and surpassed all of those hurdles, but even now it is facing new challenges. How will it fend off new competitors and keep growing its membership at a breakneck pace?
The answer may have arrived. Netflix offered a preview of its future strategy earlier this week, announcing it will begin offering "family plan" subscription packages later this year.
The family plan will allow multiple streaming from one Netflix account, which would, for example, let kids watch a movie on a computer while parents watch one on TV.
Current Netflix subscriptions, including the $8-a-month streaming-only option that has fueled the company's success in the past six months, allow audiences to stream only one movie or television show at a time, regardless of which type of device -- television, smartphone, etc. -- is being used.
The plan should bring in new customers and begin drawing more revenue from existing subscribers.
Netflix will likely discuss the plans during its earnings call next week, but investors may also hear about other new pay models, as this marks a great time for the company to diversify revenue streams.
It would also make sense for Netflix to begin offering premium memberships that give access to a broader range of movies and television. As it becomes more difficult for Netflix to persuade content partners to continue giving audiences unlimited access, premium Netflix memberships would be an ideal way to satisfy both content providers and audiences. The groundwork for the pricing model is also ingrained in the audience already. It would be just one more step on Netflix's way to becoming a true cable competitor.
It's also possible that Netflix will introduce a lower-cost membership to its streaming service, albeit one that is advertising-supported. Competitor Hulu hasn't found the same robust audience as Netflix, but it has proved that a premium subscription streaming service can also host ads and be successful (Hulu Plus is on track to hit 1 million subscribers within its first eight months of business.)
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A few months ago, Netflix sent out a survey asking if you had to pay to stream on more than one device at a time, would you be willing to? They knew that we were/are able to use our accounts on more than one device at a time and were considering putting an end to that.
They "creating" this "plan" they have found a way to charge for a service that we were already receiving.
At the time that I completed the survey, I told them that I would consider paying more for the streaming service if they increased the number of movies that are instantly available. Its not just new movies you can't get instantly, its popular ones. I wanted my daughter to watch Sixteen Candles- nope, had to wait to get the dvd in the mail.
If they do this, I will cancel my subscription. I can get a ton of movies free through OnDemand with my cable service. I'm not paying for a family plan. They advertise unlimited movies for one price, what should it matter if they are watched simultainiously or one after the other?
Netflix just got greedy.
Can't say I'm too keen on some of these changes at Netflix. First of all, they should fix their streaming service to provide higher quality. I don't have other services to compare it to, but according to every article I've read, Netflix picture quality is the worst. I know what I'm seeing now does look a bit poor even on the pc, never mind the TV.
Second, introducing ads will kill Netflix. The reason I use it is to escape advertising. I used to use Hulu more than I do now, but they're squashing more and more advertising breaks into their programs and I find I don't like it as much, although at least they're not using channel bugs and snipes (yet). Netflix will lose me as a streaming customer if they start behaving like cable companies.
There is going to be a limit to what they can offer for $10 a month.
It's definitely worth paying a few dollars extra to have no ads. That was the cool thing about cable when it started.
We have the 2 disc plan, and the Blu-rays are great.
As for streaming quality - you cannot improve the original quality on the old TV shows. I have seen many Netflix HD streamed that looked good. It's 720, not 1080, but still better than most cable or sat. tv broadcasts.
You are going to have to have super fast internet to show 2 - 720hd shows at the same time. I have noticed picture quality drops at times of peak internet usage (evenings). But I can't put that on Netflix - everyone gets slowed down when demand exceeds supply of bandwidth.
Keep up the good work Netflix!
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