Remember when Netflix was warning everyone that losing Net Neutrality would mean having to pay extra for access to your favorite streaming options? Well, that’s not stopping the company from testing a new pricing structure that raises the cost of streaming … again. Only this time, in very cable like fashion, they’re offering their own multi tier streaming plans, based on just how good you want your stream to be.
Netflix has been testing two new streaming plans, which will give users the option of both ultra high definition 4K streams, and HDR options, as well as streaming to up to four different devices. There will be multiple tiers, including a Premium plan, for $13.99 a month, that will give customers up to two 4K UHD streams, and $16.99 a month for up to four in the Ultra “family” plan. The Ultra plan will also give customers the benefit of enjoying high dynamic range (HDR) content, over the standard 4K quality streams.
Would an extra $3 a month be worth it? Well, I guess. But here’s the thing. While Netflix was the first to offer 4K streams with House of Cards about three years ago, the stream is heavily compressed. Then, you have to deal with how your ISP streams it to you. So, when it finally gets to you, you’re really not getting a strictly raw 4K image like you would enjoy with a blu-ray disc. Toss in HDR, and it’s likely that your stream is going to be compressed even more.
Still, it’s probably better than the HD stream you’re paying $10.99 a month for. But I’m guessing not by much. I think I’d rather save the money and pick up an HDR title every once in awhile. There isn’t really that large of a selection just yet, but it’s better than tossing Netflix the money as tribute, only to have the benefit get lost in their compression algorithms.
Frankly, it’s one of the reasons why I’m still watching Netflix on an HD TV. I really like the colors and dynamic range of my current model, and am in no hurry to upgrade to ultra high definition. And even if I did, I rather doubt I’d pay extra for the privilege like Netflix did when they raised their prices and broke out UHD last year. Back then, a two-stream HD tier went up to $10.99 per month and the Premium, four stream family plan went up to $13.99 per month. The single-stream, non-HD Basic plan is still available at $7.99. But who has that, except for a college student who doesn’t leach off his parent’s account?
Still, the dual UHD tier price plans are only in the testing phase, to see just how much Netflix customers value having HDR as an option. If it isn’t well received, we may not have to deal with a price hike. But I wouldn’t hold my breath on that.
Meanwhile, in other news, Netflix has also launched a new feature for their customers called “Smart Downloads.” The new feature helps mobile users to manage their favorite Netflix shows that are downloaded to their mobile devices. Once you finish watching an episodes, Smart Downloads will automatically delete the title from your device to clear up space for the next episode. The new feature is currently on available for Android based phones and tablets, and only downloads when you’re connected to WiFi, so as not to impact your bandwidth caps. To learn more, click here.
Hat Tip – Variety