Netflix eyes multiple streams, tweaks to plans

Currently, Netflix customers with a streaming-only plan or a one-DVD-at-a-time option can stream only one piece of content at a time. Netflix is looking to change that.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read

Netflix's limits on the number of simultaneous streams available to customers might soon change.

In a question-and-answer page on the company's investors site, Netflix said that it's exploring ways to encourage customers to pay for the ability to watch multiple streams of its content at the same time.

"Our $7.99-per-month plan is for one stream at a time, and later this year we expect to be able to offer consumers some account options to watch multiple simultaneous streams," Netflix said on the Q1'11 Top Investor Questions page. "Or it could be that there is a price point that would encourage multiple accounts in one household. In either case, our long-term goal is to evolve the Netflix service so that it feels more natural to have a personal account."

Currently, Netflix customers who either pay for the $7.99 a month streaming-only plan or have the one-DVD-at-a-time option with unlimited streaming can run only a single stream at a time. Those with a two-DVD plan can stream two pieces of content at the same time, while those with three- and four-DVD plans can stream three and four videos simultaneously. Netflix caps simultaneous streams at four.

That structure has led the company to believe that it has a "household" relationship with customers where all the people in a home are watching Netflix content through one account. That, in turn, apparently may be limiting Netflix's ability to generate more revenue.

Netflix believes that the growing use of mobile devices, including tablets and smartphones, could play into its favor as it looks to expand its revenue through multiple simultaneous streams. The company said that through mobile devices "there may be an opportunity to change our focus from a household relationship to an individual relationship, since streaming is viewed on personal devices, such as phones, tablets, and laptops, as well as on shared large screen televisions."

In other words, if one family member is out of the house and wants to watch a movie, while another family member is at home doing the same, new multiple-streaming or personal plans would allow for that and, in turn, boost Netflix's revenue.

Beyond mobile, Netflix is also looking toward "broader Facebook integration" to help it "further the notion of personal accounts."

Netflix declined CNET's request for comment. However, the company might divulge more of its plans at an earnings call it plans for later today.

(Via NewTeeVee)