25 July 2011


I'm late commenting to the hubbub about Netflix's new pricing scheme, mostly because despite all the hue and cry this strikes me as a "nothing to see here" news item.  Nonetheless, I will spill some words about this:

(1) Aren't most of the people complaining about a la carte pricing for the streaming and disc services also people who complain about having to pay for their cable in bundles?  A little consistency, please.

(2) If the service, with the new pricing model, doesn't provide you consumer surplus anymore then don't buy it.  If you still find it worth it, then do buy it.  The end.  You are not being "held hostage."  Yes, that is a phrase I have heard used without irony to describe a private company's monthly pricing of what is clearly a luxury good (e.g.).

(3) Netflix's unlimited instant streaming has only been available for three years.  It's amazing how fast people get attached to things and begin to treat the possibility of losing them either a violation of their rights, a mortal insult, or an insurmountable change to their lifestyle.

(4) I think there is a lot of asymmetry here.  If Netflix had introduced streaming back in 2008 as a separate plan and charged $8 for a one disc plan and $8 for streaming, no one would have thought it was unreasonable to divide the services this way.  But because they rolled them out as a bundle people are grievously insulted that they would change the status quo.  It's not that the new deal is a bad one, it's that it's not the old deal.

(5) I've had a streaming-only plan for about nine months now to save some money.  Do I wish I could get access to a lot of the disc-only material?  Of course.  But there is an insane amount of stuff to watch on their streaming service.  More great content than anybody could reasonably get through.  Ip Man 2, Carlos, Shutter Island, Gomorrah, Oldboy and Let the Right One In are all high in my queue.  If TV is your thing Netflix has recently added the entire runs of Cheers and Top Gear.  Not to mention Firefly, No Reservations, Mythbusters, MI-5, Fawlty Towers, Black Adder, and 24.  So yes, I wish I could get Cedar Rapids, but it's not like I'm hurting for things to watch.

~ ~ ~

PS I actually have one complaint with Netflix's UI when it comes to TV shows.  They keep track of each available episode and check off the ones you've seen to make it easy to figure out which one to watch next.  It's very helpful.  But you can only check off an episode if you watched it through Netflix.  I've seen a lot of No Reservations and Mythbusters episodes in reruns.  I'd like to be able to check those off as seen.  It would make finding unwatched episodes easier, and that would make me more likely to use Netflix to watch those shows.

Does anyone know of a way to do this, perhaps through some service using their API?

PPS I'm afraid something might have gotten lost in the shuffle.  Allow me to repeat — Netflix lets you stream every episode of Top Gear and Cheers.  That needs to be said plainly and clearly for the benefit of mankind.


  1. I completely agree with what you said. I've been on and off with Netflix for years now, mostly with the 2 disks at a time plan. When I got my new Apple TV, I decided to sign up again with the single disk plan plus streaming just to see what it's like. I like the instant gratification that comes with streaming, and I get to watch some shows that are DVD only (currently The Wild Wild West series), so I'm a happy camper. (I also have two new Apple TVs, two iPads and an iPhone, so there's streaming all over the house.)

    When the rate changes came up, my first thought was that they should have done this from the beginning. My husband was initially offended by the greedy corporation that wants to bilk people of more money. When I explained to him the old pricing of just the DVDs and how the streaming should be separate, he has calmed down somewhat. In other words, we're staying put with the single DVD plan plus streaming.

    My only regret is not buying the stock a couple years ago.

  2. Regarding people's sense of entitlement, I never get tired of this clip of Loius CK on Conan: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8r1CZTLk-Gk&feature=youtube_gdata_player

  3. I agree with you comments. But, I think the main issue is the price change not the unbundling. What they essentially have done was to increase the price 100%. So, while $16 for streaming and 1 DVD could still be a good deal (which I think it is) going from $8 to $16 could a bit of a shock.

  4. If I heard people saying "this is a big increase, but still a good offer," I wouldn't complain. But what I hear is "this is an outrage! how dare they change the plans or increase prices! they have no right to mess with my movies! I quit!"

    Yes, this is a big increase. Perhaps even shocking. I think it's still a good deal. Even if it wasn't, it's still a business issue, not a moral one.