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Berkeley Netflix Users May Drop DVDs After Price Hike

With an increase in the full subscription price, some Berkeley customers say they won't be getting Netflix's red envelope in the mail and will opt for streaming only.

Netflix customers in downtown Berkeley on Tuesday afternoon were figuring out what to do now that the cost of their Netflix subscription is going up — but most still won't be going to the service's competition, local video stores, if they don't already.

The company known for its red DVD envelopes might mail less of them, after announcing Tuesday that a full subscription to its service — the DVD rental and online movie streaming bundle — now costs $15.98, up from $9.99 per month. 

However, customers may now choose between an online streaming-only subscription or renting one DVD at a time for $7.99.

"I'll have to ask my wife about it," said Shane Cybart, who works at UC Berkeley. "The (online) streaming service doesn't have enough good options, so you really have to have the DVD component."

Cybart said he might cancel his service and quit renting DVDs, period, rather than make trips to a video store.

Most Berkeley customers Patch spoke with said they only stream movies from Netflix anyway — making the price change a money saver, since they currently pay $9.99 for their subscriptions.

Rachel Richardson, who works at the Haas School of Business, subscribed to Netflix about four months ago to stream old seasons of "24" and "True Blood" to her television. "I would only use the DVD option if there was something not available for streaming," she said. "I think it's almost their fault if they don't offer something streaming."

John Wilson, a local bus driver, isn't sure if he's going to change his Netflix subscription yet, but he said he won't use any other DVD rental service. "I used to go to a local video store that was just down the street, but they closed," said Wilson. "It was an independent family owned store that got pushed out of business by Blockbuster and Hollywood Video."

But both Blockbuster and Hollywood Video suffered at the hands of Netflix. MSNBC reported Hollywood Video went out of business in 2010, and Blockbuster was recently acquired by Dish Network during bankruptcy proceedings.

At Berkeley's Blockbuster on Shattuck Avenue, nine customers strolled through on Tuesday afternoon. Most said they currently or previously used Netflix, but rely on the video store to rent actual DVDs. "They didn't have the movie I wanted on Netflix," said Andrew B.H., who wanted to stream 2010's "The Takers" but wound up browsing the video store's shelves. "Due to time constraints, I decided to come get it."

cutensmart July 13, 2011 at 12:39 PM
Amazon Prime costs $79 upfront for a year(=$6.58 per month), which provides free instant movie streaming as well as free 2 day shipping for many items bought from Amazon. The selection of movies and shows as well as the new additions in both cases are quite comparable(Netflix is probably 5% better in that regard). Besides many movies and shows, that are not Prime eligible, can be rented for a week for instant streaming for a very low cost($2) from Amazon Prime. The moment Amazon Prime started providing free streaming service, I canceled my Netflix streaming account. Though once in a while I join Netflix just for a month(costs $7.99) to watch the movies thats not available through Amazon Prime but is available on Netflix. I recently wanted to watch "Hot in Cleveland" Season 1 which is available for streaming at Netflix but not through Amazon Prime( one can rent it at Amazon for $2 per episode and there are 10 episodes in Season 1, = $20 for renting the entire season). So I joined Netflix for this month just for that and cancel it by the end of the month(since Netflix doesn't prorate the monthly charge) with the intention to finish watching also off some other movies that are not available from Amazon. If many people do this Netflix will eventually understand this suicide of theirs, unless they make tremendous improvement in their instant streaming collection. I am sure with sufficient marketing, Amazon Prime can take advantage from this blunder of Netflix.
Lou Judson July 13, 2011 at 02:38 PM
I dropped streming for DVD only. Call me old fashioned, I like playing DVDs and not staying online.
Emily Henry July 13, 2011 at 07:05 PM
Thanks for sharing, and bringing up Amazon Prime streaming, which I don't think many people have heard about. I also have Amazon Prime, although I never seem to use it because it has pretty much the same movies and TV shows available as Netflix, and I can watch Netflix on my TV with our Playstation whereas I can only watch Amazon movies on my laptop. But the deal seems worth it for the 2-day shipping, and occasionally I'll buy a TV episode or two (if I'm desperate to see something.) You're right that Amazon has an opportunity here... but without an easy way to watch Amazon Prime on your TV, isn't there a disadvantage?

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