Netflix is preparing to roll out an automatic price rise of £1.50/month for long-standing UK subscribers from the end of April, but there are ways you can avoid it.
If you're a UK Netflix subscriber currently paying £5.99/month and are able to stream in high definition (HD) and on more than one screen at once, you'll be affected.
If you're one of these subscribers you'll start getting charged £7.49/month automatically unless you choose to downgrade – and so lose your HD and multi-screen benefits – or cancel your subscription before the change comes into effect.
Netflix says there's no specific date this is happening as it varies depending on your billing cycle, but the change is being rolled out from the end of the month.
You'll be hit by the price rise if you joined Netflix when it became available in the UK, between 2012 and 2014, before it introduced tiered-pricing for different benefits.
If you currently pay £5.99/month but joined after 2014 and don't get HD or multi-screen viewing at the moment, or you pay more than £5.99/month, you will not be impacted.
Netflix currently offers three packages to new subscribers, each with different benefits:
- 'Basic' – £5.99/month. Allows streaming to one screen at a time; includes standard definition (SD) streaming only.
- 'Standard' – £7.49/month. Allows streaming to two screens simultaneously; includes HD streaming.
- 'Premium' – £8.99/month. Allows streaming to four screens at a time; includes streaming at 4K resolution.
When Netflix initially launched in the UK there was just one plan, costing £5.99/month – to which HD and multi-screen streaming was added later at no extra cost.
In 2014 Netflix created the two additional plans, dropping the HD and multi-screen features from the entry-level option for new customers and requiring them to take the middle-tiered subscription to take advantage of them.
Existing customers, however, retained the benefits of what became the 'Standard' plan without seeing an increase in cost. This is what's changing now – those older customers paying the 'Basic' price, but getting the 'Standard' benefits, will be automatically moved to the current £7.49/month price that new customers pay.
How can I avoid the hike?
Netflix says affected customers will be notified of the change by email and on-screen when using the website.
To avoid the hike, you can choose to downgrade to 'Basic' and continue paying £5.99/month, and lose HD and the ability to watch on more than one screen at once.
Or you can choose to pay the increased price of £7.49/month and retain the HD and multi-screen benefits. But consider whether you need these extra features before paying more.
It is important to note that, if you do nothing, you will automatically begin being charged £7.49/month at the start of your next billing period.
Alternatively, you could switch to a different TV subscription provider. Amazon Instant Video, for example, offers a free 30-day trial and then costs £5.99/month for unlimited films and TV. Check out our Movies and TV Online guide for more info.
The final option would be to cancel your subscription altogether, losing all access to Netflix at the end of your current billing period.
What does Netflix say?
A Netflix spokesperson says: "The prices taking effect were previously announced in May 2014 and follow a two-year period of holding prices to the previous level as a thank you to members."