Years after Netflix split its DVD plans from its streaming plans, a very big still problem persists: there is significantly less content available in Netflix’s streaming library than what is available for DVD rental customers. A lot of customers are perplexed by this situation.
After all, the DVD plan and streaming plan both start at the same $7.99 per month. Shouldn’t this mean the features and content are identical?
Unfortunately, it’s a little bit more complicated than that. For this GT Explains article, you’ll get a look at why a divide between both Netflix options still exists and the steps Netflix has taken and keeps taking to start narrowing the gap.
Streaming Requires the Rights
The biggest reason why the Netflix streaming library is so sparse compared to the DVD library is because, for streaming, Netflix needs to obtain rights to distribute the content. It partners with content providers to license movies and TV shows.
Often, these content providers shy away from allowing Netflix to stream the content if they think they could profit more off of individual sales. This is why many shows that are available for DVD aren’t for streaming — because Netflix can’t obtain the rights.
DVDs, on the other hand, don’t require these negotiations. So Netflix can get its hands on just about any DVD it wants to add to the catalog.
If you prefer the DVD selection, you can sign up for a Netflix DVD plan. One disc out at a time is $7.99 per month, two is $11.99 per month and three is $15.99 per month. Even though Netflix often advertises that the plans start at $7.99 per month, it actually has a $4.99 per month option it calls the Limited Plan, which only permits two DVD rentals every month.
Other plans have no such restrictions — rent and return as much as you can watch.
How Streaming Slowly Gets Better
Netflix has been actively working over the past few years to improve the number of titles available for streaming. For one, the library gets a total update every month. New TV shows and movies emerge on the scene while others that Netflix was unable to renew, get the boot.
Tip: If you’re looking for the best content, check out Guiding Tech’s guide to finding the highest rated TV shows and movies on Netflix.
Additionally, in 2014, Netflix raised the price of its standard HD, the two-screens-at-once plan from $7.99 to $8.99. This might only be a dollar, but an extra dollar from every customer every month is more money Netflix can use to persuade content partners.
Current customers were grandfathered into the $7.99 price for another two years, so that is set to expire in 2016.
Most importantly (and successfully) Netflix has tried to remedy the content situation by producing some of its own hit shows. House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Bloodline and many more titles are Netflix exclusives and have become extremely popular among Netflix’s loyal following.
Original shows means Netflix doesn’t have to worry about getting licenses.
The Bottom Line
It’s very likely that Netflix’s streaming library will always lag behind that of its DVD business. Content providers are almost entirely to blame for that. But Netflix has gradually improved the streaming library over time in both quality and quantity.
Even the website looks better now too. More original content and small price hikes to please the content providers are gradually doing the trick.