On-line movie rental service Netflix today announced it is changing its pricing plans for customers. Now customers will generally have to choose either an online only streaming plan for their movie watching or a DVD by mail only plan. There is indeed a combo plan, but the price for that has skyrocketed to $17.98 a month. Netflix is forcing customers to choose one side of the fence or the other.
The company says it’s customers are already watching more content streamed on the Internet than its traditional DVD by mail option. It’s true DVD by mail is getting old and the technology easily exists for Netflix to do most of its business online. But when CEO Reed Hastings says “We are now primarily a streaming video company” I have to call time out.
Netflix has done a great job of getting their streaming service on just about every piece of electronic hardware there is from DVD players to XBox, Wii and even the iPad. But the available streaming library is woefully lacking. There is nothing I would like more than to only use Netflix online and stop all DVD mailings, but if you look at my current movie queue, that’s just not possible. Of the 38 movies I have in que, 19 of them are available for streaming but 19 are only available on DVD by mail. There is no way I will give up DVD by mail until that percentage gets up to 90% of my que available streaming. The only saving grace is that Netflix says it will spend more on licensing for streaming this year than for physical DVD’s. If they really want to be primarily a streaming movie company, they are going to have to get a much larger percentage of their library on the streaming service. So far, that transition has been much too slow, especially if you compare what is available online from Apple and Amazon. Enjoy your DVD’s while you can, because in 5-10 years, they will be extinct as the dinosaur.