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Posted at 10:56 AM ET, 11/22/2010

Netflix intros $7.99 streaming-only plan

By Rob Pegoraro

You can ditch the DVD, as far as Netflix is concerned. The video-rental firm best known for its DVD-by-mail service introduced a $7.99 plan this morning that only includes Web streaming of movies and TV shows -- while raising the price of its disc-based options.

netflix_logo_small.jpg

As explained in a blog post and press release by the Los Gatos, Calif., company, subscribers can now pay $1 less a month to watch Netflix's streaming offerings only on a computer (if you install extra software) or other Netflix-enabled devices: video-game consoles, connected HDTVs or Blu-ray players and Web-media receivers like the Apple TV or Roku boxes.

The price to have Netflix deliver movies via the U.S. Postal Service, however, goes up by at least $1 a month. Its minimum DVD option, allowing you to have one disc out at a time, now costs $9.99 instead of $8.99. Its two-disc plan goes from $13.99 to $14.99, a three-DVD deal jumps from $16.99 to $19.99, and other options show comparable increases.

Netflix is making two bets with these changes. It's safe in banking on the continued growth of Web-only viewing; as the blog post notes, "Netflix members are already watching more TV episodes and movies streamed instantly over the Internet than on DVDs." It's not such a safe play to assume that the major movie studios will pull their heads out of the sand and stop artificially constraining the online availability of their content.

Although there's been progress in recent years, the Netflix "Watch Instantly" catalogue can at best be called quirkier than its far-wider DVD selection.

You'd think that Hollywood would simply let customers give them their money and stop worrying about what technology they use to watch a movie at home. But this is an industry that thinks it perfectly acceptable to block people from viewing TV shows they put on their Web sites for anyone to watch for free, just because those viewers use a browser on a Google TV device instead of a computer. (As Cecilia Kang notes today, Viacom is the latest network to join that disgraceful club.)

Will you sign up for Netflix's Web-only plan? How much do you worry about its limited selection of content?

By Rob Pegoraro  | November 22, 2010; 10:56 AM ET
Categories:  Video  
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Comments

I'll stick with the one-disc option. The selection of titles available for streaming is inadequate to justify the $7.99 cost. (I was also unaware of the price hike for my one-disc option until reading this piece - thanks.)

Posted by: GreenMeansGo | November 22, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Until they can figure out how to provide closed-captioning for streaming video, I will stick with DVDs.

I am hard of hearing and am *constantly* frustrated at the Internet's lack of cooperation for providing CC over the air, especially when it comes to posting on YouTube, TV clips, etc. I'm sure there are a lot of Deaf and hard of hearing individuals out there who would agree with me.

Lately, I've noticed more and more DVDs require you to actively select whether or not to display English subtitles without automatically providing CC that one can turn on and off with the TV remote.

Limited selection? God, yeah, it's pathetic and since I can't find the most recent releases on-line without paying through the nose for it, I think I'll stick with Netflix and also Redbox for now, thanks.

Posted by: deweydevil1 | November 22, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

I will drop down from 3 disks to 2. The online content is OK, but doesn't give the access I need to foreign, new movies. Also, online there are not enough options as far as the actual disc. Sometimes if there are strong accents i need to have subtitles. Sometimes the subtitles on line are unreadable because they have white subtitles over a light background.

There is a $5 difference from 3 to 2 disks. Too much.

Posted by: cab50151 | November 22, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

If netflix expands its streaming content selection, I'll cancel the disc option.

Posted by: jobro1 | November 22, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

I watch a lot of BBC programing and British movies on Netflix and find subtitles essential when the accents stray very far from London. Netflix/Roku need to figure out how to offer subtitles for streaming videos.

Posted by: sage5 | November 22, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Rob. I dropped down to the $9.99 plan.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | November 22, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Selection, selection, selection. I'm guessing about 80 percent of my Netflix DVDs over the past year were not available for streaming, and many of those are rare enough that I doubt Netflix would ever offer them online. So I'm sticking with the DVDs.

Posted by: Miles_Standish_Proud | November 22, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

I will never pay twice for TV again!!!! After finding Hulu.com and Crackle.com and others, I will only view FREE movies since they are getting advertising dollars anyway! If these sites starts to limit content, I can always get an HDTV antenna. Which I might add, can be purchased to receive FREE from 75 miles away, to 350 miles away and on up!!!!!

~~~ FREE ~~~

Posted by: VegasHarleyDude | November 22, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

They had only dropped the price to compete with Blockbuster, so now that they vanquished them it makes sense from a business perspective to restore it. I sure hope this change makes some of the discs that have gone into my Saved pile forever come back as people who only stream don't need to hold onto a token disc anymore. Despite such a huge collection, they sure have trouble keeping a lot of the movies I want to see in stock.

Posted by: hesaid | November 22, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

I'll stick with the one disc plan for now even though 80% of what I watch is streamed. At a $2 cost difference, if I only have 1 DVD mailed per month if would still have beat the price of getting one blockbuster movie. The DVD+streaming price is essentially 2 blockbuster movies, but I can watch all the straight to DVD movies that I like (3 Strikes, Malibooty, Phat Beach) without it costing me too much.

Posted by: ProfessorWrightBSU | November 22, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

I will never pay twice for TV again!!!! After finding Hulu.com and Crackle.com and others, I will only view FREE movies since they are getting advertising dollars anyway! If these sites starts to limit content, I can always get an HDTV antenna. Which I might add, can be purchased to receive FREE from 75 miles away, to 350 miles away and on up!!!!!

~~~ FREE ~~~
-------
ha ha ha. I'm with you. I watch (movies, tv shows) that I have interest in, for FREE on the Web. I use my HDTV antenna to watch football and news for FREE on my tv.

Posted by: case50 | November 22, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

I'll stick with the discs although I've used the streaming frequently. I'm signed on to Netflix because of the variety of what is offered to me no matter how old or how obscure.

Posted by: gsdlea | November 22, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

ISPs would be justified in imposing a surcharge for streaming Netflix day and night. Bandwidth is expensive, and streaming each viewing of a movie individually is a huge waste of it.

Posted by: LBrettGlass | November 22, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

I watch Netflix discs on a 1080p projector with 5.1 sound, thus, Blu-ray discs. Netflix streaming has gotten exponentially better but its video and audio is not up to Blu-ray quality yet. (Even their very limited streaming HD movies).

Posted by: mojo6 | November 22, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

ISPs would be justified in imposing a surcharge for streaming Netflix day and night. Bandwidth is expensive, and streaming each viewing of a movie individually is a huge waste of it.

Posted by: LBrettGlass | November 22, 2010 3:00 PM
=====================

have you lost it? The ISPs stream TV and phone all day... comcast xfinity, verizon fios, etc.

any ISP that charges a surcharge will lose market share to its competition. their customers can take phone numbers with them, so there is absolutely no reason for 'customer loyalty' except for service to cost ratio.

4G providers advertise the fact that you can stream from your slingbox to your phone.

Posted by: ProfessorWrightBSU | November 22, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

I plan to stay with the one DVD option because it provides a larger selection of titles.

Posted by: grayowl | November 22, 2010 4:40 PM | Report abuse

If I were a young kid just out of college, I would just live with a computer. I could watch shows on the websites of many networks, grab live games and network tv from the web off of european sites that broadcast everything in real-time for free.

If a company could come up with an impressive array of downloadable TV and Movie options for one reasonable flat fee, I would happily pay for content. I currently do go to Amazon and download shows. Often the first episode of a series is free and, if I like it, may download a season or more. Netflix could get my business if they did a flat rate for viewing, even without ownership.

Posted by: dabraat | November 22, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for this article. I had no clue that the price for the one disc option and others was increasing. I don't think they have enough titles for streaming to justify $7.99 a month.

Posted by: greensboroagent | November 22, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

The only way this really helps me is in the value of my Netflix stock. Woo Hoo!

Posted by: Snapper24 | November 22, 2010 5:51 PM | Report abuse

No subtitles, no directors' commentaries or other extras, no thanks.

I haven't used Watch Instantly much. It's okay once in a while, but I wouldn't go to that exclusively. The quality isn't that great on lower-speed DSL, and it doesn't have all the features.

Posted by: moxilator | November 22, 2010 7:49 PM | Report abuse

I would sign up but not until more options are available for instant download.

The upshot to this can also be spun as "greener,"—the dvds do not have to travel by post, making a smaller carbon footprint. If it also resulted in the pressing of fewer dvds, that would be greener, too. So Hollywood should get on board, making this a win-win for everyone, and encouraging more movement toward the TV/computer as the go-to appliance for communication and entertainment. Overall it could be an industry driver if done right.

Posted by: lindsaycurren | November 22, 2010 9:21 PM | Report abuse

I checked out the details of movies from netflix over the internet, but didn't have the latest operating system for a mac. This crazy constant upgrading is for windows and osx venders to sell more computers in my opinion. Hulu worked fine on osx panther till they locked out flash video, you upgrade os then hardware too old to handle it and you're stuck. Switched to puppy linux and never looked back, using hulu again--netflix take note, potential customer. Found DTV is very good with good converter box like zenith/insignia, not cheap one, and works with plain old uhf antenna.

Posted by: bwcolq | November 22, 2010 10:24 PM | Report abuse

mojo6 makes an important point, anyone who is serious about watching movies will want 1080p and that is simply not available for most of Netflix's site, let alone Hulu and the rest whose images are not even worth watching on a TV. Even if Netflix gets its act together and releases more HD content many subscribers will experience ISP problems in downloading. As for antenna reception, best of luck. HDTV reception is limited to the networks (with all those commercials) and is more difficult to receive than standard reception.

Posted by: ianstuart | November 22, 2010 10:34 PM | Report abuse

Dear Netflix, Enough is enough: http://bit.ly/fcranW

Posted by: jaelstrom | November 23, 2010 1:26 AM | Report abuse

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