Netflix Prices Skyrocket: What Are Our Options?

By Amanda Whitaker
Lifestyle Editor

Last Thursday, Sept 1. It was the seemingly average second day of classes here at Washington College. I imagine some of us pondered how quickly summer seemed to have slipped away. Perhaps some of us were considering plans for the semester or for the first official, hurricane-less weekend back in Chestertown.

And then there were those of us who were lost in our own frugal grief, tormented by the fact that last Thursday, Sept. 1 marked the first day of Netflix’s price hike—a 60% price hike, to be exact.

We all saw it coming. We knew of its existence long before the unthinkable transpired. Sometime in the middle of summer, Netflix casually sent an email to its innocent, faithful customers, explaining to our horror that our wallets would in fact be seized and held hostage by the corporation. Weeks of noisy complaints ensued to no avail.

Alas, as a business conducting business, Netflix only reiterated their power and our helplessness last Thursday by simply following through.

So what are we cash-strapped college kids to do? In this dark age of bleak uncertainty, with HBO and our DVRs left at home and rental chains a derisory pastime, where are we Netflix refugees to go? The answer is, actually, a lot of places.

Most likely the most comparable to Netflix, Blockbuster offers an online delivery and streaming service. And what was once barely a contender in the negotiations of the business, Blockbuster is now smelling pretty rosy with its pricing ranges of $11.99 to $19.99 per month. Their day-of-release movie-on-demand option, something that Netflix has always completely lacked, costs just two bucks.

Amazon Prime comes with a bit of sticker shock at $79.99, but that’s a.) for the whole year and b.) for non-students only. Amazon Student offers Prime benefits for a full year absolutely free and half-price for your subsequent years in school. Even after your free trial is up, that’s still only a little more than three dollars a month. Not too shabby considering Amazon is the Superman of online shopping and the main perk of Prime membership is its free two-day shipping.

The downside? Amazon Prime offers instant streaming only, with no option to watch on any screen other than that of your computer. And their selection? Not super great. Respectable titles such as “Food Inc.” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” can be found, but only after wading through some lesser gems, like “Omoo Omoo, the Shark God.” More titles are available, but at an inevitable fee ranging from $0.99 to $3.99. Even Omoo Omoo could tell you that adds up pretty quickly.

Hulu Plus certainly take home the prize, assuming you’re a TV-only junkie. Movies aren’t exactly this option’s forte, but classic movies alone could be. Hulu Plus offers comparatively impressive access to exclusive titles from the Criterion collection. Considering both the $7.99 per month price and the fact that movies such as “Trainspotting” or “The 39 Steps” are virtually un-findable, hundreds rather than thousands of titles might be a forgivable snag to the broke with a refined taste in film.

At the opposite side of the spectrum, there is the mail-only option of GreenCine. With fees starting at $9.99 a month and their ridiculously-cheap-by-comparison eight-DVD-at-a-time fee of $49.99 a month, GreenCine reigns victorious, if you’re okay with the whole no streaming scenario. If this option still has your attention, then it might be the one for you. With over 50,000 titles, there isn’t much that can’t be seen through these guys. You just have to wait for it.

For the most hard-core patient consumers, Swap A DVD is an interesting option. This website literally gives you the chance to swap your DVDs. If you have unwanted DVDs lying around, you can post them on your profile for other members to request. In return, you can request any title you want. And with over 245,000 titles currently offered, chances are you’ll be able to it. Membership is free and the only time members have to pay is when they are shipping DVDs to other members, but patience is the virtue when it comes to this option. No streaming, and no guarantees you’ll have something to watch within the next few weeks. But, free is free, and this option certainly takes home the thrift award.

The final option I offer to you is rather anticlimactic, but there is always the option of just coughing up that 60% and sticking with Netflix. I personally canceled half of my subscription, begrudgingly keeping only the Unlimited Streaming option to keep my monthly price relatively the same.It has been weeks since these dejected eyes have seen one of those precious red envelopes in my mailbox but, strangely enough, I’m completely okay with it.

Believe me, I’m no fan of change, but there’s no way Netflix is getting that extra six bucks per month from my pocket. You can laugh and call me a cheap, or worse, DVD-less, but at least I have my dignity. And if all else fails, there’s a Redbox around here somewhere.

One thought on “Netflix Prices Skyrocket: What Are Our Options?

  1. It’s not about being cheap. Cancel your Netflix like I did. We’re not in an economical climate that justifies these radical increases. People are losing jobs daily. Luxuries like Netflix are the first to go. My wife was laid off almost 2 years ago. We enjoyed our 1 DVD at a time but we streamed when we had to WAIT for the next one. I can rent over 10 movies a month with Red Box and it will cost me less than Netflix…and we only watched 4-5 movies a month!!! Netflix was making money on us! Good riddance to your greed.

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