Netflix Is Trialling A New Service Called 'Netflix Ultra'

Image: Netflix

Since it launched in Australia, Netflix has been offering a three tier service - basically taking the trusted "good, better, best" product strategy. But a new pricing tier, called 'Ultra' has been spotted in the wild.

Netflix Ultra has started appearing in some parts of the world with the company saying it's "testing slightly different price points and features to better understand how consumers value Netflix". So what does the Ultra tier get you, what do the others lose and is this good news or bad?

Netflix currently offers three pricing tiers in Australia; $9.99, $13.99 and $17.99 per month. The difference between the two least expensive services is the availability of HD and streaming to two devices rather than just one. Premium subscribers get access to Ultra HD and four simultaneous screens.

Image: Netflix

The new Ultra plan, which was captured by Italian blog Tutto Android reveals the new Ultra tier, which costs an extra €2 but adds HDR as a premium feature.

Image: Tutto Android

Everything You Need To Know About HDR

If you followed the news out of CES closely this year, you probably heard the word HDR tossed around a lot. In 2017 we'll see TVs for under $700 with the feature, and fancy monitors for over $1300. But what does HDR even mean?

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Netflix has been adding HDR content to its library for some time. A number of its original productions are available in HDR but the content range seems quite limited and it's hard to tell what content comes in the emerging higher-quality format. With that said, it's likely to become a more prominent format with the latest Apple TV and Google Chromecast supporting it, as well as most new TVs.

The bad news is that this new pricing tier will have some ripple effects on the existing structure.

The Standard tier, with two simultaneous viewers, drops back to just one viewer while Premium drops from four to two viewers. Access to HDR and Ultra HD content, which are currently bundled up with the rest of the HD content, becomes an Ultra feature.

In other words, if you've got a fast internet connection and the right kit, you could see a drop in the quality of the material Netflix streams to your TV. There's also a potential risk that some movies and TV shows could be restricted in some way. While we doubt Netflix would block or segment its Original content, it may dabble in timed exclusives where Ultra customers get early access to new shows. This is pure speculation, but it's clear Netflix will need to add as much value to this fourth tier as possible.

Based on the European pricing, I expect the Ultra tier, if it's introduced here, to come in at $19.95 per month.

I've reached out to Netflix for a local comment on whether this will hit the local Netflix service. If that response arrives, we'll update this story. But, if things go ahead according to what we've seen, you can expect the value of the existing packages eroded in order to create the Ultra pricing tier.


Comments

    looks like it has HDR and more screens....so may as well label it Netflix "Share it with your mates"

    The Standard tier, with two simultaneous viewers, drops back to just one viewer while Premium drops from four to two viewers

    I don't speak Italian, but looking at that screenshot it looks like the number of devices is unchanged? Ie 1 for basic, 2 for standard and 4 for premium and ultra?

      Yeah not sure where he got that conclusion from? It seems pretty obvious nothing changes in any tier except the HDR component is offered on Ultra.
      Then the rest of the article is pure speculation on timing exclusives to Ultra to create fear mongering.

      I've seen this reported elsewhere and it's Netflix in Germany that drops back the streams so Netflix seem to be dabbling with different models in different regions before rolling out wide.

        I'll be pretty pissed off if they want me pay for the 4K streaming when I don't have a 4K TV just so my wife and I can watch on 2 HD devices at once like we've been doing for years.

          Paying more for the same service is never fun. Hopefully Netflix will come to their senses!

            The funny part is that I'd object less if they were just up front and said "we're raising all subscription fees by $1 per month". This practice of charging the same but giving you less for it feels like more of a rip off to me. Like when they reduce the size of a block of chocolate or whatever but charge the same amount and hope nobody notices. It feels underhanded to me.

    Sort of shitty product segmentation since HDR is literally just metadata on the top thats 99% of the time generated during mastering anyway.

    But I guess how else do you nickel and dime us? Can't really do it on content (unless you want to be lynched), so amount of streams and quality options are it I guess.

      Not quite. Netflix's major marginal cost of delivery is data. Using 10-bit instead of 8-bit colour comes at about a 20% data rate premium, so it does stand to reason that it costs Netflix more to provide it.

        Except only a minority of content will be in HDR.

        And I don't see Netflix offering discounts for people turning bitrates down.

    If they start cutting the number of screens they can **** right off given that Stan gives you 3 simultaneous streams for a lower price. Trust me in a house with 4 kids there are often times where you butt up against the two screen limit

    Given the fact that I have the fastest possible internet available in my area and most nights I can't even stream SD successfully, I'll continue saving money by sticking with the base tier.

    If they offered a larger degree of content, I'd consider upgrading. I'm spending at least another $10 a month renting things from iTunes to cover what Netflix doesn't have.

      Yeah, I'm starting to get a bit annoyed with their focus on original content seeming to come at the expense of less non-Netflix movies and shows. Gonna get worse with every man and his dog seeming to be jumping on the bandwagon and starting up their own streaming services, too.

      They seem to be missing the point that the reason this works is because people can get a wide range of content for a reasonable monthly fee. Once people have to subscribe to 3 or 4 or 5 services to get that same amount of content then it no longer represents good value for money and we'll see a return to piracy. After bleating about illegal downloading for years, the studios now have the solution sitting in the palm of their hands and their own greed is going to lead them to throw it away.

        I just wish they added in older movies too, like it's nice having a few of the latest and greatest... but I like watching lots of 90s/00s movies (Or binge watching a trilogy etc). The alternative is I just stream them from *other* sources, or pay like $4 each movie for the privilege, which as you can imagine isn't taken up ;)

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