Remember back in 2011 when Netflix unveiled (or canon-shot) their plans for Quikster in all of our faces, dividing the streaming and DVD plans and changing their pricing model in the process? The reaction was not good, to say the least, resulting in the subscription service quickly issuing an apology and eventually scrapping their Quikster plans (but not entirely their plans to separate DVD and streaming). Well, they seem to have learned their lesson well enough from that ordeal to take a more tentative to adjusting their pricing plans.
The Wrap reports that Netflix is tinkering with a new lower pricing for reduced quality for their streaming plan. As this potential new payment option is set, subscribers would pay a dollar less than the currently cheapest price option for their monthly subscription in exchange for limiting the number of devices they use to access Netflix streaming content. To test the plan, they’re letting some subscribers pay $6.99 a month to watch Netflix content on a single device in standard definition.
Limiting the number of devices to one would likely discourage users on this plan from sharing their account information, which is likely a common problem for Netflix. The slightly cheaper incentive may be their way of trying to get a tighter grip on how their subscribers are using (or abusing) their accounts.
I checked my account and I’m not among the users being offered this experimental pricing option as far as I can tell. At present, my only options are the $7.99/month plan, which allows Netflix to be watched on 2 screens at a time, and an $11.99 plan that allows viewing on 4 screens at once. Both options include unlimited TV shows and movies on as many devices as I want. I’m good on the plan I have, so it’s not disappointing to be excluded from this new pricing experiment, but it’s encouraging that Netflix is taking a tentative approach to changing their options around, especially considering how limiting this new option is.
If the purpose of this cheaper option is to discourage password sharing, I’m thinking Netflix would be targeting new subscribers with it, as I can’t imagine current password sharers will be eager to drop down to such a limiting option just to shave a dollar off their monthly expenses. But a new subscriber content to only pay $6.99 a month might be less likely to hand out their password if it meant having to worry that they wouldn't be able to access Netflix content because someone else was using it at the time. I’m assuming most people share their password because it’s at no cost or major inconvenience to them to do it, but if they had to pay more a month to have more than one device at a time, well, they might feel a bit less generous about their password. In the meantime, making the solo plan a little bit cheaper would allow Netflix to offer this solo-user option without disrupting people’s current price plans and risking a mass exodus from subscribers (or QwiksterGate 2.0), especially considering the big movie purge that's on the way.
We’ll have to wait and see if this new option makes its way to Netflix’s permanent pricing plan.