Thursday, July 14, 2011
Attention streaming movie marathoners: There are major changes coming your way. This month Netflix announced they'll be increasing their plan pricing. The trend of rising prices for streaming content is a growing one. Cell phone providers like Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile are all planning to eliminate unlimited data plans in favor of tiered pricing. With experts predicting most cell phone users won't be hit by the changes for a few years, Netflix is taking most of the heat.
The Netflix Changes
Here are the basics of the Netflix changes. Instead of having DVD rentals and streaming movies priced together, each portion will be priced as a separate plan. For most users, this will increase the monthly bill by $6-10. Price changes will take effect September 1.
Understandably, cash-strapped consumers are not thrilled about price increases. The official blog post announcing Netflix's changes has generated more than 12,000 comments. Most appear to be current subscribers pledging to cancel their subscription.
More Than the Price
On the surface, $6 doesn't seem like an outrageous amount, but customers are hurt about more than the money. Many who've been with Netflix from the start feel their loyalty has been betrayed. Disgruntled loyalists would like prices to stay as they are for current subscribers with increased rates only for new subscribers.
Not Enough Bang for the Buck
Another customer gripe is that the product doesn't justify the higher price. Subscribers have complained the streaming movie selection is lacking. They contend new material is not added often enough and many times the streaming video quality is poor.
Switching to the Competition
The price increases by Netflix are encouraging many users to give the competition a try. Redbox is one of the most popular alternatives, with $1 rentals and locations in just about every neighborhood. Amazon Instant Video is another popular choice. Streaming new releases are typically $3.99 to rent for a 48 hour period.
Price Increase Reasoning
Even though Netflix subscribers are in an uproar, the company isn't entirely to blame. When Netflix started their streaming service, studios who own the movies didn't realize the potential for profits. With the surge in streaming media popularity, studios want to charge a premium for their content. One expert has predicted Netflix's content licensing costs will increase from $180 million in 2010 to $1.98 billion in 2012.
If you don't want to pay these increased costs, here are a few alternatives to help you keep your cash.
DVD Exchange With Friends
Do you have a shelf full of DVDs you just can't bring yourself to watch again? Get a few friends or co-workers in on a movie exchange. Trade movies one for one and trade back when you're all done watching.
Rent From the Library
With the demise of local video rental stores, finding releases from a few years back is growing increasingly difficult. Renting movies from the library can help you track down many titles not available from Redbox. Even better, the rentals are free!
Discount Gift Cards
Going to see a movie in the theatre isn't exactly a steal, but there are some ways around high prices. Popular cinemas like AMC and Regal both have more than 100 discounted gift cards available at GiftCardGranny.com.
If you work a 9-5, matinee movies may be out of your reach, but they make for another way to beat high prices. Tickets cost much less and you don't have to deal with the massive crowds you find in the evening.
Neighborhood Movie Night
Consider going in with a group of neighbors and investing in a backyard movie set-up. Hopefully, someone already has a projector they're willing to share. All you need then is a screen. Inflatable, outdoor projection screens can easily be found online for less than $200. This tip might not save a ton of money, but it can help a whole group of people stop paying their money to Netflix.
Plenty of filmmakers just want their movie to get seen. College campuses are great resources for finding free screenings. Many towns also offer free showings of classic films at parks throughout the summer. A local paper is a good way to find out if there are any offerings in your area.
The natural world was here before streaming Netflix and it will certainly be here long after. Take the money you'd spend on movies and invest it in a national parks pass. The cost is only $80 for one year and it gets you and anyone in the car with you into more than 2,000 sites across the country.
Dial Into Daily Movie Deals
Deal of the day sites like Groupon and LivingSocial occasionally offer discounted movie theater tickets for as little as $2 per person. That's a pretty cheap movie night outing and well worth the price. Just make sure to skip the popcorn and candy -your wallet and waist will thank you.