April 19, 2011, 11:16 AM — This morning tech blogs all started talking about Netflix pondering new options for monetizing streaming video. It all seems to stem from an investor FAQ which contains this quote:
The evolution toward individual memberships will take time, and we are still thinking about how to best do it. One option would be to allow an account to add additional concurrent streams (using the analogy of our DVD business, it would be like choosing a higher-priced plan that allows a subscriber to have more DVDs at home). Our $7.99-per-month plan is for one stream at a time, and later this year we expect to be able to offer consumers some account options to watch multiple simultaneous streams.
There seems to be some confusion on concurrent streaming. Note the Netflix FAQ refers to the streaming-only plan. I can't speak to that plan, but in our household we have the 1 disc plan and we can (and often do) access two streams at a time (we've never tried to do more than that). [Update: A friend on Twitter tells me he has the streaming-only plan and can, in fact, access 2 streams at once.] Yet blogs like VentureBeat and Cnet are reporting that, essentially, you get the same number of streams as you have discs (1 for the single disc plan, 2 streams for the 2 disk plan, and so on).
That's not the case for myself or several commenters on those blogs. I can only assume these bloggers are basing their posts on info from Netflix (rather than personal experience), which leads to a question. Does this mean Netflix is getting ready to remove the ability to access multiple streams concurrently, so that they can then turn around and 'upsell' us on a mutli-stream membership?
It sure sounds that way to me, unless multiple bloggers are getting the same data point wrong in the same way.
Aside from the troubling talk of charging more for a feature we already have, it sounds like Netflix plans to re-invigorate its Profiles feature (which at one time it said it was discontinuing). Profiles never got removed (at least, ours didn't) but they don't seem to support streaming.
Netflix says it may transition into "Personal Accounts" which would allow various family members to have their own queues and recommendations. It sounds like these "Personal Accounts" would be bundled under one master account. This sounds like a wonderful feature to me. Our instant queue right now is a mish-mash of shows I want to watch but she doesn't, shows she wants to watch but I don't, and shows we both want to watch. It would be great to be able to split our selections into 3 discrete queues with their own recommendations.
In fact, Netflix, I'd like that ability so much I might be willing to pay a little bit more for it. But taking away concurrent streams so you can then sell us the ability we just had? That would be very poor form!
I'd love to hear what other Netflix customers have experience. If you have a streaming-only plan, is it true you're limited to 1 concurrent stream? And those of you with a disk plan, how many streams can you do? Is anyone really being limited to 1 stream at a time?