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Netflix makes a stalk for its own back with the price hike

NOTICE: Netflix is ​​giving its subscribers a decision to make with its latest price hike, and it could see them rushing to new (and cheaper) pastures.

I’ve written a lot about video streaming services over the past few months. Not too long ago I was talking about services becoming risk averse and how there are now too many choices. And now I have price hikes on my brain.

With the announcement that Netflix will be raising prices “with immediate effect” in the UK and Ireland, the Basic and Standard plan is up £1 and the Premium tier by £2/month. Although on its own that doesn’t seem like a big increase, the Premium tier costs £16/month (or £15.99 if you want to be pedantic). There was the usual kerfuffle over paying the license fee, but compare the two services and the BBC’s extensive range of services cost £159 while Netflix charges £190/year to watch in 4K HDR. It’s a lot.

The rationale for the increase is that it will help Netflix continue to invest “in best-in-class UK productions and deliver a wide variety of curated quality shows and movies” is similar to what they said in January 2021, where this increase reflected the “significant investment made in new television shows and new films”. Who’s to say that in a year the subscriptions will not go up with this trotted justification for another broadcast? Whenever Netflix will add functionality (8K?), will the prices go up?It adds an unnecessary feeling of nervousness about the whole thing.

Image of a scene from the Bridgerton web series
credit: Netflix

With digital streaming services, the genie has been unleashed and if subscribers haven’t realized it yet, prices are going in one direction, unlike physical media which often get cheaper over time. The idea of ​​ad-supported tiers with streaming services may appeal to some, but even that irritates me. Wasn’t that the point of paying for these streaming services so that we are not subject to frequent advertising interruptions?

In Netflix’s defense, UK and Ireland prices are now not too different from subscription costs in other regions like the US and France once you’ve run them through a currency converter. But the market is no longer what it used to be. It’s not just that and Amazon Prime Video makes it your two obvious options, there’s Disney+, Apple TV+, Peacock, HBO Max (US and parts of Europe), BBC iPlayer, BritBox, Rakuten TV, Sky and many more.

And services that offer 4K HDR content do so at a more affordable price; in Apple’s case it’s a third of what Netflix charges and for Disney it’s half. Netflix is ​​risking its status as the streaming service for the ‘average’ person, as new and existing subscribers have had a chance to reflect on the value they’re getting. Netflix can talk about the value they offer all they want, but if you or I don’t watch the service as much for some reason, it’s inevitable to look for other options.

The cost is increasingly difficult to accept

The cost is no longer one of those hidden costs that we just agree to pay every month. With the cost of living and energy prices rising dramatically, it’s becoming a pretty big chunk of annual spending just to watch a few video streaming services and something has to give.

What’s not helping is that subscriber growth has fallen to its lowest rate in 2021 despite frequent lockdowns, while others are biting into Netflix’s lead. Content leaves the service, first Star Trek: Discovery, now Marvel netflix Disney+ shows featuring Daredevil and Jessica Jones. After watching what Netflix has done, the studios are more aggressive and Netflix is ​​losing its luster of being the go-to video streaming service.

Netflix may project an air of confidence about increasing competition — they may even get a Best Picture Oscar winner — but it feels like they’re under pressure. With Netflix canceling shows before they’ve had a chance to grow, there’s a need for big hits or binge-watch movies with lots of buzz and they’re not always there.

Like the cops and felons in John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13, Netflix appears as if under siege – perhaps a little dramatic – but the next few months will tell if they’re right to be confident or if they’re watching nervously. . their shoulder. To quote Omar from The Wire “If you come to the king, you better not miss out”, although Netflix may have made it easier by shooting itself in the foot.