Despite the imminent return of the hit romance series Bridgerton, Netflix isn’t making itself very popular with subscribers right now.
The service announced steep price hikes across all its plans in the US, and then the UK. The top tier – Premium – now costs a whopping $19.99/£15.99 per month, making it the most expensive leading streaming service available (without the inclusion of live TV).
Following on from that was the announcement of a test to crack down on password sharing by prompting account holders to add users from outside of a household as ‘extra members’ for around $2.90/£2.30 per month.
The trial may be happening in only three countries in Central and South America – and it is not yet confirmed to roll out globally – but making the announcement so publicly seems to indicate that something more permanent is in the pipeline.
Netflix is clearly aware that it is losing precious revenue – explaining as much in a blog post. Variety dug deeper into these numbers, finding that the subscriptions it gained in 2021 were quite sporadic. Whilst it managed to secure 18.2 million across the year as a whole, only a quarter of this number happened in the first six months.
The curb on password sharing from Netflix caused a big stir online, as indicated by Android Authority’s survey. Almost 90% of respondents said they hated the idea. And of course they do: if they’re splitting the cost of Netflix subscription with others save money, it’s undoubtedly going to go down badly.
It seems that Netflix is looking to stop users sharing accounts, so it’s no wonder that the below tweet from 2017 went viral. Talk about ageing like milk.
Love is sharing a password.
— Netflix (@netflix)
March 10, 2017
Despite the tweet, password sharing has always been a contentious issue for Netflix. Whilst users are technically supposed to keep streaming under one roof, it is hard to monitor. Even with this new rule of verifying non-household users, Netflix cannot prove that someone logging in from another city or country isn’t the actual account holder watching from a hotel, workplace or somewhere other than home.
The plans themselves are also partly marketed on the number of simultaneous streams. Why does it matter whether those streams are used in the same household or across different properties?
Announcing the crackdown so soon after raising prices isn’t a good look for Netflix, especially when you take into account that one of its biggest rivals – Disney+ – confirmed that a cheaper, ad-supported tier will launch this year, which could save users a decent amount of money in the long run.
Disney+ already undercuts both Netflix’s Standard and Premium tiers at £7.99/$7.99 per month and is not that far off the price of the Basic tier – which only offers streaming in a measly 420p picture quality. With huge wins such as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Moon Knight and new Pixar films, Disney’s proposition looks much more attractive.
But it wasn’t just Twitter users that took notice of these announcements. According to CNBC, Netflix’s stock shares dropped by around 2% – losing nearly all the gains that it made during the pandemic and putting the figures level with March 2020.
Recent new content has also been underwhelming, as Forbes notes. There have been huge disappointments such as Cowboy Bebop, and a focus on publicising content that is still months away, such as Stranger Things season four.
Netflix is always churning out films and series, but it has also been reliant on legacy titles to keep subscribers watching. Now, other platforms are slowly leeching this content away. Disney+ has bought out the Netflix Marvel shows, including Daredevil, which saw a spike in popularity after Spider-Man: No Way Home.
Content aside, subscribers may have further incentives to cut down on monthly costs this year. In the UK, energy bills are expected to rise by around 54%, and the general cost of living is also going to increase via groceries and petrol. America is also set to face similar issues.
I, for one, am guilty of subscribing to multiple services and forgetting to take inventory of what I am paying unnecessarily for. With popular upcoming shows on newer platforms like Paramount+, and HBO Max gaining wins with Peacemaker and Euphoria, the costs for multiple platforms can add up.
Fortunately, Netflix has zero incentives for staying, nor does it have any penalties for cancelling. There are no annual plans on offer to save dosh in the long term, and its monthly model means that there’s flexibility to pick up whenever suits you.
If you’re just waiting around for a show that is yet to release, then you may as well cancel for the months you do not watch and sign up when a must-see show/film hits the library (Bridgerton may be the spanner in the works for some at this current time).
For anyone unsure, I suggest checking out the list of what you have watched recently and comparing them to the libraries of rivals that you subscribe to. Even free offerings such as iPlayer (not truly free, admittedly, as it requires a TV license) and All 4 have a good range of content that could keep you entertained until you cannot resist the pull of Netflix any longer.
Alternatively, downgrading to the Standard plan could save you some money. You still get all the same content that you do on the Premium plan, but the downside is that you will only get HD streaming and two simultaneous streams (instead of four with Premium). So, weigh up what is most important to you and whether you actually need Premium.
I just hope that competitors keep their costs down to lure subscribers away, rather than increasing their prices to match Netflix’s. My bank account can’t take any more hits.
What I’m watching this week
Over the past few weeks I was stricken down with a nasty case of the flu, and what’s a girl to do in that situation but watch some classic, trashy Channel 4 TV? I’ve been obsessed with Hunted, a reality series in which members of the public have to evade a team of ex police, military members and intelligence for 25 days.
If they manage to succeed, they win a share of £100,000. However, with the UK having one of the most surveillance of any countries in the world, and hunters monitoring their cars, family and friends and internet history, they are up against it. There are five seasons available on All 4, plus a whole bunch of celebrity special series.
It is worth watching just for Peter Blecksley, the lead hunter who is a total geezer and loves playing mind games with the contestants.
That’s just one example of many shows you can watch without paying Netflix’s high prices. So, if you’re a Premium subscriber, now’s the time to think about downgrading or even cancelling your subscription.