How much does Netflix cost? A breakdown of the streamer’s plans
Today is January 17th, 2020
Is Netflix worth it? It’s a good question, but the answer is going to differ from person to person and family to family. I think, overall, if you watch an average amount of television and/or movies, it’s well worth the money, and I’ll explain my thinking below.
Which Netflix plans are best in 2020? The Netflix.com plans have changed pretty dramatically over the last year, and they’ve changed several times.
Some customers canceled their subscriptions and haven’t returned. But I’m sure some new customers have come into the Netflix fold, too.
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Which Netflix plan is best for you depends also on your viewing habits, and I’ll make some suggestions about that below too.
Which Netflix plans are available in 2020? I visited the Netflix site as a consumer, not logged in, and I was disappointed to find that the information about the various membership plans on their main site was limited, to say the least.
I understand that they want to focus on their streaming-only plan, but if they have other options available to customers, they should put those options front and center on their site so that consumers can make an educated choice.
I’m sure that Netflix has a ton of user-data, and they’ve analyzed what layouts and what providing various levels of information do in terms of their goals for each user, but it’s still not the way I’d run the business if it were mine.
Then again, I owned a small bookstore in a small town, and I couldn’t keep it afloat, so maybe I’m not qualified to operate a public company as large as Netflix.
Netflix’s Streaming Only Plan
At any rate, the main plan that Netflix would like you to sign up for is their streaming-only plan.
This plan costs $7.99 a month, and it allows you to stream movies and television shows over your Internet connection. It’s an unlimited plan, so you can watch as many movies and tv shows as you like for that $7.99 a month.
This plan is a good fit for people with high-speed Internet connections.
But if your connection isn’t good, the picture on your streaming movie won’t be good, either, so take that into consideration.
In fact, if you have a modern Blu-ray player, which are all automatically set up to receive a Netflix signal via a Wi-Fi or ethernet connection, the value for $7.99 is actually pretty amazing.
It costs $9 to go see a movie in my area. For less than the cost of a single movie, you could literally be seeing movies 24/7 on Netflix streaming.
No one could (or would) use the service that extensively, but even if you only watch 2 movie a week with the streaming service, you’re paying less than $1 per movie.
That being said, most movies are not available via Netflix streaming (aka Netflix Instant).
Netflix.com has an excellent selection of movies via their instant-watch program, but it’s far from complete.
This plan is perfect for people who love documentaries, because Netflix has an excellent documentary selection. It’s also perfect for people who like classic movies, because they also have an excellent selection of classics available via streaming.
Foreign films and art-house films are well-represented via the Netflix streaming product too.
But where Netflix streaming plans really shine is in their ability to provide you with access to entire seasons of television shows. My wife and I just finished watching Downton Abbey and Luther via Netflix, and we’re halfway finished with Jekyll.
(We like BBC.) But Netflix has plenty of mainstream American television available too, from all the episodes of every season of Star Trek to almost every episode of The Office and 30 Rock.
So if you like television shows and have the technology, $7.99 a month is a hell of a good deal.
On the other hand, if you only like the latest releases, and you’re only interested in mainstream movies, you might have some trouble getting your money’s worth.
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That being said, Netflix also has plans available where you can receive Blu-rays and/or DVDs via the mail–in fact, that’s how their service got started.
The Little Red Envelopes – DVD & Blu-ray Only Plans
You can choose a DVD rental only plan for $4.99 a month if you’re only going to keep one DVD out at a time, and if you agree to limit your rentals to two per month.
That means you’re basically renting two movies per month for $2.50 each–not the best plan, in my opinion.
The price for the subscription plan goes up based on how many DVDs you’re allowed to rent at one time. If you’re willing to do one DVD at a time, but you want an unlimited number of DVD’s per month, the price goes up to $7.99, which is a much better value if you watch at least 2 movies per week.
(And their turnaround time via the mail is excellent–you’ll have no trouble watching 2 movies per week if you manage the process.) If you want two DVD’s at a time, and an unlimited number of DVD’s per month, your price goes up to $11.99 a month.
If you’re going to do the DVD-only plan without the streaming option, the two DVD’s at a time with unlimited rentals for $11.99 is the way to go.
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You could easily watch four movies a week if you’re a film lover, and your price per movie watched drops to just 75 cents.
Want to upgrade so that you can also rent Blu-rays?
Add a dollar to the plan for 2 movies a month, so that’s $5.99. For one movies at a time, with unlimited rentals, add two dollars to the plan, so now you’re paying $9.99. And for two movies at a time with unlimited rentals, add three dollars to the plan, for a price of $14.99.
I’m a movie lover, and the quality of the image matters to me.
I’ve spent a fortune on my home theater, and I want to take full advantage of it. So if I were going to do a DVD/Blu-ray only plan, I’d certainly go with the $14.99 plan.
DVDs, Blu-rays, and Streaming Plans – The Best of Both Worlds
Netflix would no doubt prefer that if you chose to get DVD’s and Blu-rays by mail that you select a plan where you ALSO get the streaming, so they’ve made the largest number of options available via the packages that include both movies-by-mail and streaming video.
The prices on these packages look like this:
- A single DVD = $15.98.
- Two DVDs = $19.98
- Three DVDs = $23.98
- Four DVDs = $29.98
The prices listed above all allow for unlimited streaming and an unlimited number of DVDs per month.
They do NOT include the option to get Blu-rays.
The upcharge for Blu-ray is based on how many Blu-rays/DVDs you’re allowed each month:
- Add $2 per month.
- Add $3 per month.
- Add $4 per month.
- Add $5 per month.
That means the ultimate Netflix plan is $34.98 per month. My goal is to try to get my price per movie to below $1, so for that plan to make sense for me, I’d need to watch 35 movies a month.
That’s not as many as it sounds–it’s a little over a movie per day, and I AM a fan of documentaries, classics, indie films, and television series, so it would be a good value for me.
For most people, the top-tier plan is too much Netflix and costs too much money. Most viewers and families have viewing habits that lie somewhere between 2 movies a month and 35 movies a month. Figure out where your habits lie, and then choose the option that matches that number most closely.
For example, if you’re going to watch 8 movies a month on average, spend $7.99 a month on Netflix.
You can choose the unlimited streaming plan for that or the 2 DVDs at a time via the mail for that, and you’re watching Netflix movies for about $1 per movie.
On the other hand, if you’re going to watch close to 20 movies a month, spend $19.98 and get the unlimited streaming plus two DVD’s at a time plan.
That’s an entertainment budget that even a college student could probably afford. The only problem is that an average college student wouldn’t have time to watch 20 movies a month, but for them, they have a couple of $7.99 a month plans to choose from.
Is Netflix worth the money? Sure, it’s worth the money.
It’s a great deal.
But it’s easy to get confused about which plan makes the most sense in your situation, so think about it, and don’t get the most expensive plan “just because.” Only buy what you’re going to get use out of, and make sure that you feel like you’re getting an appropriate value for your money.
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Each movie might be worth $2 for you, rather than my more frugal $1 suggestion–if that’s the case, then great. Just be sure to run the numbers and think about which Netflix plan is right for you, your family, your viewing habits, and your budget.