Internet braces for new Netflix unlimited-streaming plan

According to network equipment and software vendor Sandvine, Netflix accounts for 20% of all downstream traffic in the US during peak hours. As one might expect, the service is most popular during the prime-time hours of 8-10 PM. And it’s sure to grow more popular. Netflix has has launched a new subscription plan for US customers that offers unlimited streaming for $8 a month.

Netflix started by offering movie rentals that arrived at your door by mail. Now, the company says more of its customers are streaming content rather than waiting for physical media. After a similar streaming-only plan was trialed in Canada at the same price, Netflix is ready to bring it to US customers.

Speaking of pricing, the new US subscription plan comes at the expense of unlimited plans that mix streaming with DVD rentals. Those plans are going up in price by $1-8 per month, which is sure to irk some users considering that a chunk of Netflix’s content remains DVD-only. The price of Netflix’s Blu-ray rental plans is unaffected by the new subscription offering, though.

The convenience of streaming downloads is hard to ignore, and I’m not surprised to see the majority of Netflix users moving away from physical media. $8 a month seems like a pretty good deal for unlimited streaming, especially considering the breadth of the catalog. Hulu Plus offers a similar unlimited subscription service for the same price, although movies don’t appear to be a part of the deal. As far as I can tell, Hulu offers the latest episodes for all its TV shows, while Netflix can be one or more seasons behind. Of course, each service also has shows not offered by the other; Netflix has Mad Men and Weeds, while Hulu boasts Grey’s Anatomy and Family Guy. Rather than one unlimited streaming service to rule them all, users may have to make do with a patchwork of plans from different providers. At least they’re all pretty cheap.

Comments closed
    • Usacomp2k3
    • 9 years ago

    <insert snobbish comment about the subpar quality of Netflix streaming>

    • DrCR
    • 9 years ago

    Broadband providers cringe and brainstorm for excuses in response to Netflix unlimited-streaming plan – FTFY 😉

    • highlandr
    • 9 years ago
    • burntham77
    • 9 years ago

    While the streaming is nice to have while waiting for my next blu-ray in the mail, I can’t imagine relying on it exclusively.

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 9 years ago

    Streaming netflix is awesome but the video quality is 720p and that doesn’t hold up to well on a 1080p display. I’d like netflix to stop charging a premium for blue ray.

    • esterhasz
    • 9 years ago

    I image that bigger ISPs are already using or working on caching architectures for services such as netflix. From the other side, I can imagine that netflix et al. are probably thinking about edge caching (bringing datacenters closer to clients) to improve the experience. Both measures should significantly reduce redundant traffic once the market has stabilized a bit…

    • Voldenuit
    • 9 years ago

    Also, I imagine that once legal streaming alternatives are here, the amount of net traffic currently being used to illegally download shows and movies will drop (though will never disappear).

    Give people a convenient, affordable and legal means to acquire content, and most will take it. It makes a lot more sense than mass lawsuits.

      • burntham77
      • 9 years ago

      I’ll flat out say that Netflix makes me not want to pirate movies.

        • sweatshopking
        • 9 years ago

        if they ACTUALLY have the movie you want, it’s great. I agree, I need something cheap, fast, and affordable, and utorrent’s gone.

    • Voldenuit
    • 9 years ago

    Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately for some), none of the streaming services offer reality shows (American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, Project Runway, So You Think You Can Dance etc etc).

    I don’t watch any of this tripe, so it remains a point of contention with the SO when it comes to paying $49-100 a month for cable just to get a bunch of crap I don’t watch.

    • NeelyCam
    • 9 years ago

    l[<"The price of Netflix's Blu-ray rental plans is unaffected by the new subscription offering, though."<]l Not true. I just got an email from Netflix saying that my 1-disc blu-ray plan will go from $10.99/mo to $11.99/mo. I'm trying to figure out if it's better to pay this extra $4 over the stream-only option, or start going to Red Box to pick up the BluRays for $1.50 at a time. With Netflix I'd get about 1 disc per week, but decent new stuff is always "very long wait". Then again, Red Box has a very limited selection, and I have to return the discs the next day...

    • albundy
    • 9 years ago

    wow, thats gonna be alot of cable unsubscribers. TW throttles the hell out of my so called 10mbps line to 1mbps, if even that.

    • MikeimusPrime
    • 9 years ago

    Netflix has all season of Family Guy in Instant Queue. Maybe he meant the current season? If so, then I don’t think Netflix has it.

    • toyota
    • 9 years ago

    so what good is unlimited streaming when most of their movies are dvd only anyway? on the regular plan I had before there was already unlimited streaming plus the getting the dvds. am I missing something?

      • indeego
      • 9 years ago

      Glad you asked. Yes, you areg{<:<}g 1. Unlimited streaming means lower cost than disk+streaming. 2. Some people don't want to deal with hassle of disc, others like the choice of discs, and still others don't care about selection quality, they only want online streaming/lowest cost. In short, under your preferred plan you are now paying "more" for that selection/option.

        • toyota
        • 9 years ago

        its not even a dollar cheaper then what I was paying for dvd and streaming and how am I supposed to get the vast majority of movies since they are dvd only?

          • sschaem
          • 9 years ago

          You are supposed to subscribe to a plan that include DVD rental…
          What is your question again?

            • toyota
            • 9 years ago

            I had the previous 8.99 plan which was unlimited streaming and getting the dvds. now for only a dollar less it would be stream only which is silly if you actually want to watch most movies. my point is they are taking way too long to put a decent selection of movies up for streaming.

            • Corrado
            • 9 years ago

            I don’t think its their decision. I think it has more to do with the content providers signing off on letting them do it.

        • fargo52
        • 9 years ago

        yes he is paying more but he is getting first run movies as
        they come out on tuesdays, where as streaming is a good
        back up for dvd’s and the price/benefit is worth it.

    • [+Duracell-]
    • 9 years ago

    If I ever get a Western Digital TV Live HD media player for my TV, I’ll be all over this. I’ve been really needing something to stream media from my PC to my TV, and I don’t like the limitations that the XBox 360 has over video containers.

      • Usacomp2k3
      • 9 years ago

      Your xbox can play Netflix.

    • dpaus
    • 9 years ago

    Mis-read that as “unlimited screaming” – thought they were introducing a horror-only service.

    • Xenolith
    • 9 years ago

    Are some ISPs helping reduce internet usage by locally cacheing copies of the most popular movies?

      • Farting Bob
      • 9 years ago

      Its mostly last-mile where the congestion is the tubes is, so caching movies for netflix at the local exchange wont help customers much since its the exchange>home where the bottlenecks tend to lie.

        • bios_hazard
        • 9 years ago

        See, I thought he was making a piracy joke.

    • swaaye
    • 9 years ago

    Wasn’t the base plan $9 unlimited streaming + 1 DVD at a time? Looks like that’s gone now and instead the 1 at a time+streaming is $10 and then there’s this new $8 streaming-only plan.

    I watch a ton of streaming stuff and rarely get discs at all anymore.

    • SNM
    • 9 years ago

    Hulu does offer some movies. Everything on Hulu Plus still includes ads, though, and there’s plenty of stuff they only offer via your web browser (Chuck, for one. Grr).

    I’m currently subscribed to both, but Netflix is definitely the better option if you just want things to watch. Hulu’s only point of comparison is that it offers current viewing, and I don’t think Netflix has done that since it trialled a few current Instant Watch things several years ago (the one I remember was Heroes, season 3).

      • Corrado
      • 9 years ago

      You can use PlayOn to stream anything thats ‘web only’ in Hulu to any DLNA server. It does cost money but I think its like $20 a year or something. It also includes things like Comedy Central, TBS (Conan!) and SpikeTV that I believe are now otherwise unavailable on Hulu at all.

      • Bauxite
      • 9 years ago

      I don’t do commercials. I sure as hell don’t pay for a service and suffer commercials either. I’m not some internet nut alone in this either, feelings are mutual with a lot of people.

      Whether by streaming or DVR skipping or delete scripts, I refuse to see them while watching things I like. (beyond a couple of frames/blur during skip/FF)

      If it means waiting awhile (an hour to get enough buffer time, or even 2 years or whatever when its on streaming) or putting a 2tb drive in my dvr or getting a tuner card in a htpc, thats fine.

      Forced crap on disks can go too, its sad when I own a bluray but I have to get the “starthemovienow” rip anyways. Oh well, saves it from scratches I guess.

    • jdaven
    • 9 years ago

    I have Family Guy on my Netflix.

    • RickyTick
    • 9 years ago

    We’ve actually had 4 pc’s in my house streaming Netflix movies simultaneously.

      • sweatshopking
      • 9 years ago

      cool. what’s you connection?

      • sweatshopking
      • 9 years ago

      do you need 4 accounts to do that? or does it work by IP?

        • khands
        • 9 years ago

        You tie devices to your account, I’ve done it from my parents place as well as my own and it worked fine.

        • RickyTick
        • 9 years ago

        Nope. All on one account. I can even watch on the TV in the condo at the beach. Using Time Warner Road Runner’s fastest connection plus Turbo boost. Bitterman is right, something has got to give if this becomes anywhere close to normal.

      • bittermann
      • 9 years ago

      Today’s infrastructure cannot handle those kids of loads if that becomes the norm sooner than later. ISP’s are going to revolt against Netflix one way or the other.

        • bcronce
        • 9 years ago

        Today’s loads as in “this year”?

        The i-net backbone bandwidth has averaged 40%-60% growth year over year for over a decade. This year, one company alone has added 13 terabits of fiber between NY and UK and the year before that they added 9 terabits.

        I know there is more than one company running fiber from NY to UK.

        What hasn’t increased by 40-60% per year is consumer bandwidth.

        Backbone is fine, it’s last mile that sucks. Consumer demand should cause last mile to keep up with Netflix’ increases bandwidth.

          • bittermann
          • 9 years ago

          What do you think is the most expensive…the last mile. I work for an ISP and the costs are astronomical…

            • sweatshopking
            • 9 years ago

            right…. but they do all make profits, so…. it’s obviously workable.

    • sweatshopking
    • 9 years ago

    FIRST POSTS BOYS!!!!!!!!

      • Dashak
      • 9 years ago

      No one cares. Seriously… please just stop.

        • sweatshopking
        • 9 years ago

        hey. that’s not nice.

          • Dashak
          • 9 years ago

          I was being honest and I said “please.”

          If you prefer, I could use the compliment-criticism-compliment technique that I use with children.

        • plasticplate
        • 9 years ago

        WE CARE. Its a competition and we compete..u woudnt understand it if u weren’t a competitor. GJ SSK. well played 🙂

          • TaBoVilla
          • 9 years ago

          omg! SSK is on fire! I’ll have to work harder on my F5 abilities to maintain my hopes of taking the crown next time =)

            • sweatshopking
            • 9 years ago

            Yes. yes you will. this isn’t a hobby. IT’S A WAY OF LIFE. YOU’VE GOT TO GIVE EVERYTHING TO THIS SITE. EVERYTHING!!!!!

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