To Netflix or not to Netflix? That is the question!

Who would have thought 12 years ago when Netflix launched that it would become such a powerhouse in the movie rental business that it would kill behemoths like Blockbuster?  I don’t even remember being aware of its existence back then honestly, so not me!  I, like many people I know, am a devoted Netflix customer.

In my home, it’s a mandatory expense to satisfy the expectations of various film and literature classes, as well as a substitute for the more costly option of cable TV.  We subscribe to the plan that allows us to have 2 DVDs at a time along with unlimited instant streaming. There is never a complaint of “there’s nothing on”, just a question of finding something agreeable to watch!

A couple of weeks ago I opened up an email from the company and was shocked by what it contained.  Here’s an abbreviation of what it contained:

“Hey, just so you know, we’re not making quite enough off of your 2 DVD + streaming plan, so we’ve decided that you need to pay for both options if you’d like to continue to have them.  Instead of $14.99, you now need to give us $7.99 for unlimited streaming, and another $11.99 for the 2 DVD’s.  No, we’re not going to give you a package deal or anything like that, those are the same prices you would pay for either of the two separately.  These changes are happening September 1st.  We know you have other options, but thanks for choosing us! (and we hope this slap in the face doesn’t change your mind)  — Love, The Netflix Team”

Okay, so obviously it wasn’t quite worded like that, but that’s pretty accurate for how I felt after getting through it.  You may say that it’s only an extra $4.99 per month for a great service that, in my opinion, can’t really be rivaled. But that’s not the point. The 30,000+ users who chimed in on Netflix’s Facebook page to express their concern agree with me! I understand the need to increase prices to offset licensing costs and satisfy stockholders, but it seems a dramatic shift to me.

Being the analytical type I am, I see it like this:

  • We go through about 2 DVD or streaming movies per week  = 104 per year
  • $19.98 per month x 12 months = $239.76 per year
  • $239.76/104 = $2.31 per “rental” or about $.58 more per movie than we’re paying currently.

Now, how is this cheaper than renting a movie from a store?  Unless we increase the rate at which we watch things, we’re losing out by not going for cheaper $1/night rentals and just dealing with going out to get one when needed instead of requesting from the comfort of home.  There are enough other free options out there for watching TV episodes (Hulu and many networks even put some out there to stream from their websites directly), that it’s making us revaluate if this will continue to be a worthy entertainment expense. There are also other streaming options that offer more content for a little bit of dough (like Hulu Plus and Amazon), but I just don’t see them fitting our needs.

One thing is for sure, prior to Sept. 1, we will be downgrading to one DVD at a time and just trying harder to make sure we are organized and prompt! I have other things that extra few dollars a month should go to *cough* gas *cough* and while I could probably justify keeping it, I’d rather do my part to protest the increase.

Are you a Netflix-er? Are you going to keep your plan or join me in protest by downgrading?