Netflix Charging $1 Blu-Ray Premium

It’s been rumored for months but Netflix has finally announced that they’ll start charging an additonal $1 a month to customers who want Blu-Ray movies.  The Netflix Team emails:

As you may know, Blu-ray movies are more expensive than standard definition movies. As a result, we’re going to start charging $1 a month (plus applicable taxes), in addition to your monthly membership charge, for unlimited access to Blu-ray movies.

The additional charge for unlimited Blu-ray access will be automatically added to your next billing statement on or after November 5th, 2008.

While there’s been some gnashing of teeth about this prospect on the tech sites, complaining that Netflix is punishing early adopters, the rationale is reasonable enough. 

The problem, however, is that a piddly portion of the movies and television shows we rent from Netflix are available in Blu-ray.  That means the vast majority of discs we get are in standard definition.  As you may know, standard definition movies are less expensive than Blu-ray movies.

So, really, they’re charging an extra buck for the possibility that they’ll send me hi-def movies, not the actuality of it.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. But that is part of the “all you can eat aspect”. If you go to an all you can eat buffet, you get to pick out what you want to eat and load up. If they then offer a “seafood” addition to the buffet, even if 90% of your plate is going to be non-seafood they will still charge the extra dollar.

    What isn’t clear from your post is if they are giving you a blu-ray-non-blu-ray option. If so, then what is your beef? If you don’t think a dollar more a month is worth the limited number of blu-ray options, don’t go for it. If you do, shut up a sit on the couch like a potato.

    I don’t even go for the basic netflix option because my local library had thousands of titles for free (actually, I pay $1 for the library card and part of my local taxes support the library).

  2. I’ve avoided the problem to this point by being too cheap to have purchased a Blu-Ray player as yet.

  3. James Joyner says:

    John: Yep, we opted out. I don’t mind paying the dollar, really, but the lack of product makes it not worth it.

    Steven: I’m generally not an early adopter on these things, either. Moreover, Blu-Ray really isn’t that big an upgrade. The picture is definitely better, although not as noticeable an improvement as, say, DVD vs. VHS or high-def vs standard, but the discs take forever to load and the selection is lousy.

  4. Bithead says:

    IS Blu-Ray the next stop long this line, though? Do we see a time when instead of being the high quality option, it’ll be the standard format?

    If so, will they at that point lower the end user costs?