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Netflix Quietly Charging More for 4K Streaming

13 Oct, 2014 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Netflix has been an early champion of Ultra-HD 4K resolution video. It had the first season of original series “House of Cards” filmed almost entirely in 4K. Now, it's asking subscribers to pay more each month to stream content in the higher-resolution format.

“We added Ultra-HD 4K streaming to the $11.99 [family] plan in August,” Netflix spokesperson Joris Evers said in an email. "Anyone who had an Ultra-HD 4K device connected at that time will be grandfathered in for two years at their original plan price.”

So new Netflix subs looking to stream 4K content have to pay $3 a month above the standard $9 fee, in addition to having a 4KTV monitor. Evers said the price hike is not due to extra bandwidth requirements of 4K or possible additional charges imposed by ISPs.

“We did this to help defray the extra cost of Ultra-HD 4K content,” he said.

In May, Netflix began streaming the second season of “Cards” in 4K. As previously announced at CES in Las Vegas, Netflix partnered with Samsung, which is promoting streaming “Cards” on its 4K-compatible TVs.

To stream in 4K resolution, which claims to be four-times clearer than HD, requires minimum bandwidth of 16 megabytes per second.

In a blog post at that time, Netflix said it planned to stream “Breaking Bad” in 4K resolution later this year. Added to that lineup is “The Blacklist” and “Sons of Anarchy.”

“Market researchers predict that consumers will buy a million Ultra-HD 4K TVs this year and even more in subsequent years. We expect it will likely take up to 5 years before Ultra-HD 4K becomes mainstream; when most of the TVs on store shelves are Ultra-HD 4K,” Netflix wrote in May.

That said, consumer awareness and high cost are thwarting demand for Ultra-HD 4K television units, with 80% of adult broadband users having never heard of, or are unfamiliar with, the format, The Diffusion Group reported in July.

Just 6% of 1,500 online respondents said they were “moderately to highly” likely to purchase an UHD TV priced at $1,500, while only 3% were equally amenable to purchasing UHS units priced at $2,000. The percentage of possible consumers increased to 12% at UHD TVs priced around $1,000.


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