News that Netflix would raise the cost of its subscriptions made headlines last month when the streaming giant increased its Standard and Premium plans by $2 and added an additional dollar to the cost of its Basic plan.
Netflix may be gearing up to compete with Disney and Apple. Both companies plan to debut new streaming services soon. According to Variety, Netflix’s latest price increase will help the streaming giant reel in an additional $1 billion in revenue.
Long-term Netflix subscribers know that price hikes are nothing new. The company has tweaked its subscription fees several times over the years. Here’s a quick look at all of the Netflix price hikes from 2007 to now.
2007: The more you pay, the more you can stream
While it may be hard to believe today, some industry insiders thought that Netflix was on the verge of collapse when it first launched its streaming service in 2007. Around the same time that Netflix announced that it would begin offering on-demand streams to its customers, The New York Times reported that its stock was down 12%. The main reason: Blockbuster had beaten Netflix to the market with its own on-demand streaming service, which it dubbed Total Access.
In 2007, you had to buy a DVD subscription to use Netflix’s streaming service. The more you were willing to pay, the more hours of streaming you could enjoy. People on the $18/month plan could view 18 hours of streams. Those with more expensive plans received more hours and those with cheaper plans had less viewing time.
2008: The era of binge streaming begins
By January of 2008, Netflix had expanded the capabilities of its streaming service to the point where it was able to offer unlimited streaming to some of its subscribers. Anyone who was willing to spend $9/month or more could stream an unlimited number of shows and movies. Subscribers on the $5/month plan could only stream two hours of content each month. Netflix’s library contained 90,000 titles at the time.
2011: Unlimited streaming for $8/month… but there’s a catch
Netflix subscription prices remained the same for two years, but Netflix pivoted again in 2011. This time, the streaming giant created an $8/month “streaming only” package.
Even though the new subscription structure lets customers access streams for one dollar less, the move wasn’t really a price reduction for most Netflix subscribers. Many ended up paying more because, at the time, many titles were only available in DVD format. To get full access to the Netflix catalog, subscribers had to pay a minimum of $16/month for the “one DVD at a time” plan and the new $8/month streaming plan. For two DVDs at a time, subscribers had to pay $2 more each month.
Wired noted that the social media response to this particular price increase was “near unanimous outrage.” The Houston Press responded with an article titled Hey Netflix– WTF?
2013: Netflix rolls out a third subscription option
In 2013, Netflix unveiled a $12 subscription option for people with large families. People in this plan– which is now called Netflix Premium– gained the ability to watch Netflix on up to four different screens at the same time through a single account. Netflix rebranded its family plan to Netflix Platinum after adding support for 4K streams the following year. Yet another change occurred when Netflix swapped the name Platinum out for Premium.
2014: Another $2/month price hike
In 2014, Netflix raised its prices again– but this time it took a totally different approach. Instead of forcing all Netflix subscribers to pay more right away, the company decided to only raise the price for subscribers that wanted to stream in HD. Those who didn’t want a price increase could opt to downgrade to SD and continue paying $8/month for service. What’s more, Netflix decided to let existing customers who were willing to accept the price increase continue on with the $8/month plan for an unspecified “generous time period.” That time period turned out to be two years.
2015: A $1 price hike for new Standard subscribers
As part of Netflix’s plan to ease their customers into their new subscription model, the streaming giant increased the price of Netflix Standard by a dollar. Existing customers were able to continue paying $8/month for service.
2016: $10/month becomes the new normal for most Netflix subscribers
In 2016, Netflix rolled out the subscription price increase that it first announced in 2014 to all of its subscribers. Despite the fact that Netflix gave everyone a two-year warning and provided a way for subscribers to continue paying $8/month, some reacted with surprise when they learned that they had to either pay more or switch to SD streaming. However, CNBC suggested that the response to this price change was not as negative as the response to the 2011 subscription fee increase. One Netflix fan even tweeted that he had “zero problem” with paying $2 more because he felt that Netflix’s original content alone was worth it.
2017: $1 price increases for Standard and Premium subscribers
Perhaps encouraged by the reaction to the 2016 price hike, Netflix raised its prices again the following year. Subscribers with Standard and Premium subscriptions found out that they’d have to pay an additional $1/month in October. Like the 2016 price increase, Netflix used a subtle approach to roll out the price rise. New subscribers had to pay more right away, but subscribers that had been with Netflix for a long time were able to enjoy a grace period.
2019: Immediate price hikes for all Netflix subscribers
This year marked the first time ever that Netflix has increased the price of its cheapest subscription option. In May, Netflix Basic subscribers found out that they’d have to begin paying one dollar more for the service. The Standard and Premium subscription plans received $2 price increases. Unlike previous price increases, Netflix raised prices for all subscribers at once.
Alex Munkachy is a freelance writer, game developer and hobby robotics enthusiast. You can find his blog about robotics news and reviews at robotfanatics.com.