Analysts say Netflix hiking subscription prices for its New Zealand customers is a bold move - one that solidifies its stance on the market being merely "an after thought".
Arguably New Zealand's favourite streaming service, Netflix has announced it will increase its subscription costs by up to 19 per cent over the coming weeks.
The price of a Basic Plan, which lets you stream to one device in standard definition, is rising 4 per cent to $11.99 a month.
A Standard Plan, which lets you stream to two devices at the same time in high definition (HD) increases 13 per cent to $16.99.
A Premium Plan, which supports streaming to up to four devices in HD, jumps 19 per cent to $21.99.
Media and telecommunications analyst Janet Wilson says despite the hefty price hikes it is not likely the streaming giant will lose subscribers in this country - at least not yet.
But Wilson does not believe the new prices offer value for money given the diluted selection of titles available in this market.
"This price hike is actually adding insult to injury for us," Wilson told the Herald. "I don't think for us, as a country, we're getting the bang for buck they are in the US."
The lack of New Zealand or Australasian content on the platform would make the service - now higher in price than any other streaming platform in this country - less appealing in the long run albeit its popularity, she said. "We have David Farrier's Dark Tourist which is wonderful and a great start, but I would have thought it's time we saw more Australasian content at least.
"We need to be seeing more of our faces on the streaming service."
Many Kiwis on the premium plan would pay the $21.99 for membership, though Wilson said expects many Kiwis to revert to the basic plan with a more reasonable price increase.
"This is the second price rise in four years; that's considerable ... We're a victim of being the little guy, a victim of being a small nation with a small population base; 'you're going to get what we give you, you'll get those price rises and if you don't like the price rises then go somewhere else' [mentality].
"Increasing price hikes will make people think twice at what they are actually paying for. If Netflix continues in this vein and every 15 months or so they raise their prices, I think that's when the tipping point is going to happen."
Or ask the extended friends and family to start paying for their share...— Callum Mcleod (@staticnz) August 1, 2019
Netflix's defence is it changes it prices "from time to time to reflect the significant investments we've made in new TV shows and films - such as Sex Education and Stranger Things - as well as improvements to our product."
I share my account with 4 others already so probably not a big deal. I assume many others do this— Sean Arnold (@arniesean) August 1, 2019
The streaming giant won't say how many subscribers it has in New Zealand but surveys indicate it has upended the market since its arrival four years ago. A 2018 Roy Morgan survey found that nearly two million Kiwis live in a household with Netflix access.
Based on the fact two million Kiwi households have Netflix access, Wilson estimates the company has between 700,000 and 900,000 New Zealand subscribers - a small drop in the ocean compared to its 151 million subscribers worldwide.
"The New Zealand market, they will say; they are merely providing the service out of kind hearted-ness."
Brand specialist Jill Brinsdon said a price hike was "only a matter of time" and it would be naive of consumers not to expect a rise from the service which was focused on creating original series and films.
"I look at a hike like 19 per cent and think 'it must have been bad for them' - they must have been bleeding to have brought it up by that amount of money.
"None of these decisions for any form of business or brand is taken lightly, I would imagine there has been plenty of price comparisons and spreadsheets that have been done to arrive at this kind of number," Brinsdon said.
"Any price increase is going to make the consumer think twice, it will make the consumer consider the alternatives more closely - and it's up to [Netflix] to prove why they are worth the extra."
- additional reporting Chris Keall.