I was at Best Buy yesterday, picking up a spare battery for my camera, when I overheard some people checking out the HD televisions. They had a billion questions, and the blue-shirted, khaki-pantsed kid couldn’t quite keep up with them, and just kept saying, “Well, HD is the best.” When they asked about Blu-ray players and DVDs and such, he said kept saying “Just get a Playstation 3,” even though they’d said they didn’t want that. When they started in on 1080p vs. 1080i vs. 720p, my head exploded.
Netflix is now saying that they’re going to raise the prices for Blu-ray subscriptions, which boggles the mind a bit. If you haven’t been living under a rock on an Amish farm somewhere, then you know that Blu-ray emerged triumphant over HD-DVD recently, paving the way to make things easier for consumers. Supposedly. Netflix themselves announced in February that they’d stop carrying the HD-DVD format, but this new price change is hard to comprehend.
Just how does Netflix decide that someone is a “Blu-ray subscriber?” Right now, you’re free to rent Blu-ray or regular DVDs from them, and it’s no secret that regular DVD has a much larger selection of titles than Blu-ray does, so won’t customers be renting from both camps? Even those with Blu-ray players? Or do you just rent one Blu-ray title, and then Netflix hits you with what amounts to a technology tax?
According to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, since Blu-ray discs cost more money to purchase, they’re going to start charging a premium to accounts who rent Blu-ray discs. Now, I have to call shenanigans here. Yes, it’s true that those discs cost more, but we’re not talking an exorbitant amount here. Remember the good old days when video tapes used to be “rental priced”? Companies would charge $100 for a movie, so only video rental houses could afford it and then they’d make their money back by renting the same tape out 25 times or whatever.
Basically, with Netflix’s pricing plan, you rent a movie from them three times or so, and it’s paid for. All this harping about raising prices is just going to piss people off, and make it even more confusing to the end user who just wants to figure out which TV to get, which player to purchase, and what discs to rent from Netflix. If you throw one more monkey wrench into that already overbalanced machine, it’s going to blow up and kill the market with shrapnel.