Blu-ray's victory over HD DVD in the high-definition format war has given owners of Blu-ray players a sense of smug satisfaction and the right to infinite I-told-you-sos.
But for Blu-ray-owning Netflix subscribers, the end of the format war cuts both ways. The rental service will be tripling the number of Blu-ray discs it carries, but may end up instituting a price hike as it beefs up Blu-ray selection.
On Feb. 11, Netflix said it would phase out HD DVD discs, but at a
conference last week, Netflix chief financial officer Barry McCarthy
reminded subscribers that Blu-ray discs are pricey: "It seems apparent
that content will cost us more. Whether we raise prices will be
entirely a function of churn, subscriber acquisition costs and gross
Well, somebody has to pay for it. Netflix wants to increase its
Blu-ray selection this year to about 1,500 discs — currently the
company only carries about 500. Current subscription plans range from
$4.99 per month to $23.99 per month. With more Blu-ray discs in
circulation, Netflix subscribers won't have to wait as long to get
copies of the soon to be released Independence Day and No Country For Old Men,
but Netflix could decide to make subscribers who rent only Blu-ray
discs suffer a price hike (quite an incentive for former HD
DVD-watchers to buy a Blu-ray player).
Of course, if Netflix continues to receive a windfall of refugee
subscribers from BlockBuster, its possible that nobody will be forced
to pay more for Blu-ray rentals. —Rachel Rosmarin
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