As it’s been hinting for months now, Netflix has introduced its first streaming-only membership plan, allowing subscribers who want access to unlimited movies and television shows via its Watch Instantly feature—but don’t like encouraging the further tyranny of the U.S. Postal Service—can do so for only $8 a month. It’s a strategy that makes Netflix an even stronger competitor against services like Hulu Plus, which recently dropped its own subscription fee to $8 as well. Netflix is now on track to be the most powerful distributor of home video entertainment in the world, and it couldn’t have done it without its loyal subscribers.
So as a thank you, its loyal subscribers will now pay more for the service—between $3 and $8 more a month if you’ve signed up for the three-or-more-DVD plans, and $1 more a month for those who have the one- and two-a-month plans—according to this just-released pricing scheme. (Only those with a “limited” subscription—i.e. just one DVD at home at a time, a limit of two rentals per month, and no streaming whatsoever—will not see a change in the coming months. Nor a movie, probably.) In an official statement, Netflix said that the price hike would “allow us to continue to offer the popular plan choice of unlimited TV episodes and movies streaming instantly along with unlimited DVDs.”
Increasingly Netflix has insisted that it is “a streaming company, which also offers DVDs-by-mail,” and this change definitely seems to be moving us further and further toward a day when sending DVDs in the mail is regarded as primitive and quaint. Anyone who wants to embrace the future and shed the bulky skin of physical media can do so on their account page immediately, while everyone else will have to pay more for nostalgia—and, you know, the reliability of a tangible copy of a movie that doesn’t require a solid Internet connection to watch. But mostly nostalgia. Think of getting DVDs like buying one of those "heritage brands" that are so in right now.