Netflix hiked prices last year, but it has no plans for another increase soon -- at least not until circumstances start to look... like they do now. Huh?
Maybe the best way to characterize Netflix's attitude about price hikes at the moment is that the company has no plans to increase your bill right up until it does.
During a video interview about fourth-quarter earnings Monday, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said the company has "no plans to try to repeat" price hikes "in the near term."
Last year, before it released the second season of its hit retro-paranormal series "Stranger Things," Netflix raised its most common subscription tier by a dollar in the US to $11. Prices went up in Europe, too. But Monday, the company reported very little blowback from subscribers and new members. Instead, Netflix reported its best quarter ever in new member additions.
"Consumers are tolerant as long as something is improving," Hastings said.
But he segued into a description of conditions that would allow another increase -- and they sound a little bit like right now.
"As long as we're able to continue to improve our content and our whole experience at a remarkable rate -- which we can measure in viewing hours and things like that -- then asking our customers to help us fund that at higher levels is reasonable," he said.
"The big way to improve customer satisfaction even further is to ask to get paid a little more on the current service, so we can make it even better," Hastings added.
In the company's financial results released earlier Monday, Netflix made a rare disclosure about growth in viewing hours. The company said its average number of hours streamed per membership rose by 9 percent last year compared with a year earlier.
And Netflix isn't cooling its spending plan either. Its eye-popping budget to spend up to $8 billion on content this year "will definitely of course be higher in 2019 and 2020," Hastings said. "Don't think of it as $8 billion as some new plateau."
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