The future is here. Netflix has announced a new subscription option; for $7.99 a month, you get unlimited access to the company’s streaming video content for movies and television episodes. That’s a drop of $1 a month from the old plan that also included one DVD movie rental at a time. The cost of the single-DVD plan is now increasing to $9.99, so you can save $2 a month if you don’t want to get the discs in the mail.
The streaming service still suffers from a limited selection of “quality” movies, though some recent deals have helped improve the choices somewhat. And now that Netflix has demonstrated that it is serious about becoming an Internet-based service, it may be able to negotiate some better deals for other content as well. For example, NBC is letting the company stream the latest episodes of Saturday Night Live starting the day after they air. If Netflix can make other deals for current programming, it could pose serious problems for competitors such as Hulu.
The genie of video content over the Internet shows no signs of being put back in its bottle, and growing consumer enthusiasm is building momentum for this game-changing delivery approach. This is going to get very interesting.