There’s More Bad News for Streaming Service Subscribers
The past few months have not been too friendly to cord-cutters and other consumers who rely on streaming services for their entertainment. Between crack-downs on password sharing, content being removed without any warning, and other annoyances, the value these platforms provide has undoubtedly taken a hit. Alas, it seems the damage isn’t done either as, this week, two services made some more negative changes in terms of pricing.
First, while Netflix didn’t raise its prices per se, it did do away with one of its more affordable options. Now, the Basic tier, which was the most affordable ad-free option at $9.99 a month, has been removed in the United States and the United Kingdom. While those currently on that plan will be able to keep it (for now), new and returning customers will need to choose something else — with Netflix clearly hoping that they choose an ad-supported tier which equates to a higher per-subscriber profit for them. It’s all a bit ironic given the fact that Netflix long thumbed its nose at the idea of an ad-supported platform before finally rolling one out late last year. In any case, the remaining options are the ad-supported Standard tier at $6.99 a month, Standard for $15.49 a month, or Premium for $19.99 per month.
Elsewhere, YouTube announced that it was hiking the price of both YouTube Premium and YouTube Music. Now, YouTube Premium will cost $13.99 a month (up from $11.99) while YouTube Music will increase to $10.99 (from $9.99). In turn, the annual subscription rate for Premium is also going up and will now be $139.99.
Funny enough, for the past few months, I’ve had YouTube Premium thanks to an Amex Offer. For those who don’t know, with Premium, you get to enjoy YouTube content ad-free but can also download videos for offline viewing, play videos in the background on mobile, and more. While I didn’t really use the latter two features, I do have to say that watching videos without ads was quite great — YouTube even says I managed to watch 280 hours of ad-free content. But, just when I was thinking that maybe $11.99 wasn’t so ridiculous after all, they went ahead with their price increase and made the decision not to renew an easy one for me.
Ultimately, while it would be hyperbolic to suggest that these two recent changes make streaming untenable, they show what direction things are heading — one that doesn’t seem to bode well for just about anyone. After all, the studios and streamers and currently embattled with Hollywood unions (the WGA and SAG AFTRA) in regard to how artists are compensated in a streaming world. Yet, at the same time, Wall Street is unhappy with how many of these platforms continue to lose money. Heck, look at Disney+, which once goosed $DIS to nearly $200 but has since taken out a CEO and kept the stock under $100 a share. So, although breaking away from cable and turning to streaming once seemed like a frugal idea for consumers, that may no longer be the case if these troubling trends continue.