‘Tis the season to fork over more dough for streaming. Brace yourself to see a few extra bucks added to your credit card bill in 2019, as Netflix has confirmed that it will be raising pricing once again for all tiers of its subscriptions. And this will represent its biggest price hike to date.
The Basic plan, which currently costs $8.99/mo., will go up by $1 to $9.99/mo., and will continue to offer viewing in standard definition (SD) on a single screen. But the biggest rises are in the mid-level and premium-level HD plans. The mid-tier Standard HD plan, which is currently $10.99/mo., will increase by $3 to $13.99/mo. It affords streaming in HD on up to two devices at once. The highest-level plan, meanwhile, called Premium Ultra HD, will rise by $3 as well, from $13.99/mo. to $16.99/mo. With this plan, subscribers can stream in 4K, to up to four devices simultaneously. This plan also allows you to download videos for offline viewing on up to four smartphones or tablets (with the mid-tier option, you can only download to two, and with the basic plan, to one.)
The increases apply immediately to new subscribers, so if you were thinking of gifting someone a one-year subscription, be prepared to spend $36 more than you had anticipated. That said, existing subscribers won't be immune: they'll notice the higher pricing on their bills within the coming weeks.
"From time to time, Netflix plans and pricing are adjusted as we add more exclusive TV shows and movies, introduce new product features, and improve the overall Netflix experience to help members find something great to watch even faster," Netflix tells WiFi HiFi in an official statement.
While Netflix is still arguably the leading source of streaming video in Canada, it is facing intense, and growing, competition. Amazon continues to offer its Prime Video streaming TV service as part of its Prime subscription, which is $79/year. But the company recently began offering Canadians a month-to-month option for $7.99/mo., which would afford free shipping on eligible items for as long as the customer wants to sign on, as well as access to Prime Video to catch hot new and legacy series. Meanwhile, earlier this month, Bell confirmed an overhaul of its Crave platform, adding a new premium tier subscription for $19.98/mo. that offers access to the streaming service through a variety of devices, as well as HBO's current line-up of series, including Game of Thrones. Crave offers an extensive library of series from top networks like HBO and Showtime, and has rights/partnerships with many popular series that are available through Netflix competitor Hulu in the U.S., like The Handmaid's Tale. Crave's standard plan is $9.99/mo., without access to the current HBO line-up.
Additionally, networks that previously only offered streaming options stateside are making their way to Canada. Earlier this year, CBS All Access launched north of the border, allowing Canadians to pay $5.99/mo. to access the network's library of programming, including NCIS, CSI, Hawaii Five-O, Survivor, Big Brother, 60 Minutes, and more through a variety of platforms, including Android and Roku TVs.
Competition is heating up in Canada. It's unknown whether this price hike will be perceived as a reinforcement of the quality of Netflix's content, including its extensive line-up of originals, or a reason to switch. Something tells us it will be the former. That said, customers are never happy when they have to pay more for a service for which they've already budgeted. Especially when pricing went up only just over a year ago. In August 2017, Netflix raised its basic and mid plans by a buck, and the premium 4K one by a Toonie. Prior to that, Netflix had raised pricing in April 2016, upping the standard price from $7.99 to $9.99 for everyone, including grandfathered subscribers, and its premium plan, then only HD, to $11.99.