Articles - 14th June 2019

Netflix and bill

Words by Caroline Kelly

Remember the days when all ‘Netflix and chill’ really meant was lying semi-conscious on the couch and binge-watching Arrested Development for about seven hours?

Then someone made it go all rude sounding and spoiled it all. Well, never mind all that because Netflix may be about to blow the whole thing out of the water anyway with plans to raise the roof on subscriptions.

Currently, this has only affected brand new customers in the US, with existing American customers feeling the burn three months down the line. But it looks like the changes will soon apply to UK subscribers too and that’s going to put a dampener on date night now, isn’t it?

Depending on what plan you’re on, you’ll see a rise in your subscription rate of between £1 and £2 a month, though if you have a basic plan you shouldn’t see any increase in your £5.99 a month. The big difference between all three of these plans is how many devices you can stream Netflix on and whether they’re in HD or Ultra HD.

And just why is the streaming giant doing this to us? One word: Disney. Those Mickey Mouse loving tinkers have launched their own streaming service Disney+ and if you’re wondering where your kids’ favourite movies have disappeared to, they’re being rapidly removed from Netflix and placed under the Disney+ roof. This new streaming service will also include Pixar favourites such as Frozen and the Marvel superhero franchise.

Disney+ will hit the US in November this year and with it a huge catalogue. It will be advert-free and less than a current US Netflix subscription, just $7 a month compared to Netflix’s basic plan of $8.99 and its most popular plan, which allows for two streams, at $12.99.

Alongside family favourites, it also offers original TV shows, documentaries and really anything that it can to rival other streaming services.

But here’s a kick in the teeth. It’s not coming to the UK any time soon and despite that fact, we’re still going to have to pay more for Netflix. But it seems more than likely that this giant of a corporation will eventually extend its presence to the UK, so we may see some movement towards a UK launch of Disney+ in the next couple of years.

So how has Netflix justified this price hike? By telling us that there is more content on the way and that it still represents good value for money. Speaking to the Guardian newspaper, a Netflix spokesman said:

We change our prices from time to time to reflect the significant investments we’ve made in new TV shows and films, as well as improvements to our product.

“We have more than 50 productions planned in the UK this year, including new seasons of Black Mirror, Sex Education and After Life. Our basic membership will remain at the same price, ensuring as many people as possible can enjoy our content.”

Let’s be honest here, for the sake of one or two pounds we’re unlikely to cancel our subscriptions, especially as the new season of Designated Survivor has just been added. The real test for Netflix will come when Disney+ or any other big hitter comes to the UK.

There has been suggestion in the media that one way Netflix could maximise its content is through creating more advertising streams on the site but what really attracts us to Netflix is its premium content and we suspect that despite this hike, as long as the service continues to offer original, brilliant content such as Black Mirror, The Crown and Ru Paul’s Drag Race (obvs), then it will be able to tread that tightrope between generating income and keeping the customer satisfied.

If you’re feeling sorry for Netflix then don’t, the BBC noted that shares in the company had jumped up 5% as news broke of the price hike. It’s a win-win for the service that started life as an online DVD rental service. Founded in 1997 by two software engineers, the service demanded a monthly subscription fee for unlimited movie rental that dropped through your door.

By 2007 the service moved into streaming and by 2010 more than 20 million subscribers were signed up. Movies were cast aside for more original content, one of the most popular being House of Cards, which in turn stepped aside for Orange is the New Black and other massive hits.

And these hits just keep on coming. Take a look at what your £2 could buy you and you soon realise that Netflix has subscribers well and truly over a barrel. The choice is most definitely an illusion if you’re a serial binger of quality dramas, so suck it up and save you ire for all things Disney.

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