Home / Opinions / You'd be mad to dump Netflix now – it's easily the best value streaming service around

You'd be mad to dump Netflix now – it's easily the best value streaming service around

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How much is £1.50 or $2 a month worth to you? Is it the difference between having Netflix and not? For many people it almost certainly is, but the streaming service is actually better value than ever in the UK and US. Chris Smith on why it's time to stop moaning about the recent price hike.

The streaming pioneer appears to be in a mini crisis, having upped prices from £5.49/$7.99 to £7.49/$9.99, which works out at about half-a-pint a month, depending on where you drink.

Shares in the company plummeted like the pound did after the EU referendum, following news it added just 160,000 US subscribers last quarter, which is astonishingly low compared with the 2.2m it welcomed aboard during the previous period.

Netflix was honest, admitting the price rise and the end of grandfathered rates – asking long-time subscribers to pay the same as newcomers – was to blame.

However, the exodus kind of amazed me, because it comes at a time when Netflix is better value than ever, compared to the other options out there.

In the UK, for example, Sky television goes up every year, despite perennially losing a boat-load of its marquee sports content to BT. The top package is now an unbelievable £72 a month. Jesus wept! In this climate, the price should be going down, not up!

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Speaking of Sky, the only paid streaming service that can rival Netflix is Now TV’s Entertainment Package. A huge percentage of that content is from a single channel, Sky Atlantic.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Now TV – it’s been a super-refreshing offering from a company that for so long frustrated us with demands for annual contracts.

For example, if you sign up for three months every year just to watch Game of Thrones, it’s worth the aggregate £21 alone, despite the near-unforgivable sin of shoehorning ad breaks into the Battle of the Bastards.

However, at an ad-supported £6.99 a month, the quality content pool doesn’t run that deep. After all, one of the Entertainment Package’s headlining box sets is still f*****g Cougar Town.

Oh, and if you ever like to watch movies, you’ll need the Sky Cinema Now TV package, which is another tenner a month.

What else is out there? Compared with a bundled Amazon Prime Video subscription, which even offers the benefit of offline downloads, I’d still rather pay for Netflix.

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It’s all about the originals

Some have, correctly, argued that there’s now less to watch on Netflix.

While, there's definitely been a downturn in the amount of archive TV content (down 26% since January 2014), surely we’re past prioritising reruns of Seinfeld and South Park?

In the US, Hulu recently paid $700,000 an episode for Seinfeld and $192 million for exclusive rights to South Park’s archives!

Meanwhile, Netflix has invested subscribers’ dues (and its own future) in an original content line-up that can match any Pay TV channel. Its “Originals” budget for this year alone is $5 billion – larger than each of Time Warner (HBO), Fox, Viacom and Disney!

What was once just House of Cards and Orange is the New Black is now also Bloodline, and Stranger Things and Master of None, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Making A Murderer, Narcos, What Happened, Miss Simone?, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, new Trailer Park Boys (my personal guilty pleasure) and an unbelievable line-up of original stand-up specials from the comedy elite.

The palpable result of the huge investment is 54 Emmy nominations (up 20 on last year), trailing only FX (by two) and the mighty HBO.

This feels like just the beginning too. As Stranger Things becomes the new 'thing' everyone is watching, we also learned Netflix will be the exclusive international home of a new Star Trek TV series and there'll be a second series of Making A Murderer.

The San Diego Comic-Con also saw the release of trailers for Marvel's Luke Cage, The Defenders and Iron Fist.

If this is Netflix's response to a crisis then bring on the pain!

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Look, if you’d rather devote your entertainment budget to re-runs of the shows you probably already own on DVD or Blu-ray, your money is better spent elsewhere. I get it, having that stuff on tap is handy.

If you’re into high-quality original content that is already challenging the cable giants to both up their games and change business models – see HBO Now and Showtime on demand – then you’re clearly better off with Netflix.

Also, if you’re excited by the prospect of cord-cutting alternative options such as PlayStation Vue and Sling TV, then you’re best off investing in Netflix. It has done more to push this new era of democratised access to premium content than any entertainment service on earth, as well as keeping at the cutting edge of TV tech with content in 4K and HDR.

Because, when all is said and done, there are five billion reasons not to get your knickers in a knot because Netflix bumped off your grandfathered rate.

And are you really telling me you’re not going to be back for Making A Murderer Season 2? If so, I politely attest your case has more holes than a Manitowoc County Sheriff's court testimony.

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Have you dumped your Netflix subscription and, if so, what's your counter-argument to Chris? Let us know in the comments below.

Rex Steinkuller

July 25, 2016, 11:57 am

HULU + !!

torjs99

July 25, 2016, 1:13 pm

if you don't take a stand prices go up forever. look at sky

Kandris Kinapreves

July 25, 2016, 1:44 pm

Price might have something to do with it but for me and others it is that you cannot use it with a VPN. It is a straight up betrayal and a huge inconvenience so screw them and I hope netflix suffers for it.

pimlicosound

July 25, 2016, 3:17 pm

It's certainly an inconvenience (I've had my proxy access shut down too), but I don't see how it's a betrayal. Netflix never promised you that you would be able to use a VPN or a proxy to access content from other countries. That was never a part of your arrangement with Netflix; it was just a way of circumventing your actual arrangement with Netflix for something you thought was more advantageous to you. You couldn't have assumed that loophole would last forever, and you certainly shouldn't have assumed that your contract with Netflix entitled you to that loophole.

Kandris Kinapreves

July 25, 2016, 6:50 pm

The problem is you cannot even access netflix from within your own country with VPN. So to watch it you have to turn your VPN off which means while you are using the service you are exposing all other internet use. It is about more than just a loophole, it is one major company discriminating against everyone who wants to protect their privacy. How long before more companies and more internet services do this in order to undermine VPN use? They went too far and becasue of that they are not only lost a customer but have lost my recommendation.

Bugblatter

July 25, 2016, 11:00 pm

HDR? Seriously? Amazon Video had it last November, including on my LG TV. Netflix 'launched' it in March this year and most sets that support HDR still don't have it.

Also how many HDR titles do they have? I think it's still just Marco Polo.

This reads like it was sponsored; was it?

Captain Bollocks

July 26, 2016, 3:11 am

A load of presumptuous old shite, this.

Chris Smith

July 26, 2016, 4:29 am

No.

Bugblatter

July 26, 2016, 12:02 pm

Thanks for that Chris. Can you see how readers might wonder though? There's a complete lack of critique in this piece. Fair enough it's an opinion piece, but an opinion without a reasoned critique carries a lot less weight.

There's only one mention of Amazon Video and that's to say you'd rather have Netflix, but with no mention of why.

I have both services and I do watch more Netflix than Amazon so I'm not bashing it, I'm a Netflix fan too, but it's far from perfect and the lack of HDR in particular has really annoyed me recently.

Alex Walsh

July 26, 2016, 2:38 pm

Agreed. Don't blame Netflix for the VPN ban, blame the rights holders, who sell international rights piecemeal for more profit. If you've got a show that you've licensed to Netflix for a shedload of money in the US but have got even more for it by licensing it to someone else in the UK, whoever paid that money is sure going to be upset if people can watch it on a US Netflix account with impunity.

Chris Smith

July 27, 2016, 2:36 pm

Not really. There's acknowledgement that £1.50 is a lot for some homes and that if it's re-runs you're after then there are better ways to spend money. As for HDR, well it's not really THAT big a deal yet is it? Would you say even 1 in 1,000 Netflix subscribers care about that at the moment?

Bugblatter

July 27, 2016, 4:55 pm

Well I guess I'm seeing this as an overwhelmingly positive piece about Netflix with any negatives, such as the £1.50 'half a pint a month' being minimised.

Also old TV content is a real bonus of these services, if not their original raison d'etre; we recently watched the original UK House of Cards but last night when I looked for Airwolf neither Netflix nor Amazon Video had it! They're both changing into content producers, which would be ok-ish if it weren't at the expense of their original remit, but it is.

I say ok-ish because streaming services are becoming like channels where you have to pay for each individually if you don't want to miss out, and they're damned expensive when looked at that way. It's still early days but that's the way this is moving; they're not like Spotify etc. where you really only need to subscribe to one service.

Sky went this way a bit when they crested Sky Atlantic and denied it to Virgin Media; the logical place for Game of Thrones was Sky 1 but Sky didn't want VM to have it.

I mentioned HDR because you used it as an example of how they're at the cutting edge of technology when in fact they're many months behind Amazon Video both in HDR technical roll-out and content. Anyone who's bought a decent TV in the past year probably cares about HDR given all the marketing around it, but yes that will still be a very small part of the user base.

I get that you need to take a strong position or it's not really an opinion piece, it just seemed a little too one-sided for my taste. As you can tell my opinion is still strong but a little more multi-faceted :o)

William Leight

August 12, 2016, 9:04 pm

How much did you get paid to write this advert?

Netflix (in the UK at least) is not value for money at all.

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