It has been a busy summer already for Netflix, and we’ve got all kinds of Netflix news to share. The changes include the introduction of Smart Downloads to make binge watching and watching on the go easier, an increase in its content budget from $8 billion to between $12 billion or $13 billion, initial testing of a pricier ‘ultra’ tier for watching Netflix in 4K and HDR, and the end of the Yelp-like subscriber content reviews, starting in mid-August.
Tuesday Netflix announced Smart Downloads, an improvement over the downloading feature launched in 2016. With Smart Downloads, after a subscriber watches an episode, Smart Downloads automatically deletes the watched episode from their device and downloads the next one. ‘You watch, we do the work,’ says Netflix. Initially, Smart Downloads will be made available on Android smartphones and tablets that are running the latest version of Netflix. The feature is optional, however. Subscribers can turn it on and off as desired.
Earlier this year, Netflix told investors it would spend approximately $8 billion on content for the year. According to estimates by Goldman Sachs, reported by The Economist and Forbes, Netflix may be planning to spend between $12 billion and $13 billion this year. About 85 percent of the spending will be set aside for original programming. Goldman Sachs estimates that Netflix could spend as much as $22.5 billion a year by 2022, says Forbes.
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How exactly will the streaming video giant pay for that content? Most of the company’s revenue comes from subscriptions, and Netflix has a new subscription tier in the works. According to Tutto Android, who first reported the news, Netflix is testing an Ultra premium plan. The new plan would cost around $16.99 and allow up to four simultaneous 4K streams at a time. The current premium plan, available for $13.99 a month, currently allows for up to four streams at a time, but the new Ultra plan would also offer HDR video. The premium tier would lose the HDR video option and drop from four simultaneous streams to two.
The Verge reports that Netflix confirmed the testing of the Ultra tier.
‘In this case, we are testing slightly different price points and features to better understand how consumers value Netflix,’ said a spokesperson for Netflix. ‘Not everyone will see this test, and we may not ever offer the specific price points or features included in the test.’
Last but not least Netflix is ending subscriber content reviews, says Media Play News. Netflix has already started phasing out the option for subscribers to review movies and TV shows in a Yelp-like fashion. A spokesperson said that members who used the feature have been told about the change. At the end of July, subscribers will no longer be able to write reviews and, by mid-August, they will no longer be able to read them either. Media Play News points out that the review feature is separate from Netflix’s thumbs up-thumbs down rating system.
‘The thumbs rating system helps formulate personalized recommendations for a member and saw heavy usage in testing, before being rolled out across the service,’ said a Netflix representative. ‘The written reviews on the site, while viewable to others, had no impact or connection to personalized recommendations.’
Netflix has a solid subscriber base and a constantly-evolving OTT model. That’s what we’ve come to expect from such a company – we want updates, upgrades and more and better options. Not every feature will be a hit, so Netflix is wise to test out tiers and customer preferences to see what works and what doesn’t before the company rolls them out to a broader audience. We are particularly excited about the increased content budget and to see what’s coming next on one of our favorite SVOD services!