Netflix subscribers in the United States are about to see a price hike across all subscription tiers.
The service’s most popular plan will increase from $11 to $13 per month for HD streaming. Netflix’s most expensive plan, which offers 4K content and up to four simultaneous streams on different devices, will increase from $14 to $16. And the service’s basic plan, which doesn’t offer HD, will raise from $8 to $9.
These price hikes will affect all new subscribers immediately, according to AP, with current subscribers set to experience the hike over the next three months.
NETFLIX IS SPENDING A TON OF MONEY ON ORIGINAL SHOWS AND LICENSING
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has said in the past that incremental price hikes will be needed as the company invests more money in original series and licensing popular programming.
“Price is all relative to value,” Hastings said in late 2017, the last time American subscribers saw an increase. “We’re continuing to increase the content offering and we’re seeing that reflected in viewing around the world.”
Original series and licensed content don’t come cheap. Netflix reportedly spent $100 million on retaining the streaming rights to Friends, one of the streaming service’s most popular series, according to various reports. The streaming service is also investing heavily in building its own exclusive library. It had approximately 700 original shows in 2018 alone and is expected to develop more this year.
As other streaming services like Hulu — and new platforms like Disney+, WarnerMedia, and NBCUniversal’s recently announced service — start to flood the landscape, Netflix will have to continue investing in original content and films to keep subscribers interested. Netflix currently has 58 million domestic subscribers, according to the company’s most recent investors meeting, with close to 80 million international subscribers.
Developing a slate of foreign TV series and films, like the Golden Globe winning Roma, directed by Alfonso Cuarón, is also a top priority for the company. Netflix has amassed approximately $8 billion in longterm debt as of September 2018 — a cost of investing so heavily and so quickly in original content. Jon Landgraf, FX Networks president, told a group of reporters in 2016 that Netflix’s rapid growth seemed unsustainable.
“I think it would be particularly bad if anyone in one company, and I don’t care what company that is, if they were able to seize a 40 or 50 or 60 percent market share in storytelling,” Landgraf said at the time. “They can’t double again and double again and double again because the entire earth’s surface would be covered in Netflix shows in 20 years.”