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Netflix on Tuesday announced higher prices for its Standard and Premium tiers, potentially putting the loyalty of its viewers to the test. [Corrected Basic pricing info]
The Standard plan has risen from $10.99 to $12.99, while Premium has jumped from $13.99 to $15.99. Standard customers can stream or cache videos to two devices at the same time in HD — Premium offers 4K resolution, and expands the device limit to four. The Basic tier is up from $7.99 to $8.99 and limits people to a single SD stream.
Netflix last raised its prices in October 2017, hiking Standard up from $9.99 and Premium from $11.99.
The company presumably wants the money to pay off massive debts created by billions in content spending. While shows like "Daredevil," "House of Cards," and "Stranger Things" have helped build subscribers and fend off competition from the likes of Hulu and HBO Now, critics have accused the company of throwing sludge at the wall, hoping a few titles stick. Even viewers have complained that there are so many Netflix Originals that it can be hard to find quality material.
Debts may also explain Netflix's decision to end in-app subscriptions for iPhone and iPad users. Apple normally claims a 30 percent cut from all in-app transactions, regardless of whether it actually hosts content, which can translate to millions of dollars in lost revenue for bigger online services.
Apple is poised to introduce its own video streaming service sometime this year, with over $1 billion invested in original programming. Initially the company may make first-party shows free to watch on its hardware, counting on subscriptions to outside services to make money.
In the long term, though, Apple is allegedly pursuing "tentpole" shows that could prop up a paid-only plan. That may be a challenge if it doesn't abandon family-friendly content rules — one of the appeals of services like Netflix or HBO Now is the ability to watch uncensored content.