Netflix announced on Monday that it's raising the price of a streaming subscription by up to $2 for new members.
"Our current view is to do a one or two dollar increase, depending on the country, later this quarter for new members only. Existing members would stay at current pricing (e.g. $7.99 in the U.S.) for a generous time period," the company wrote in a quarterly earnings report to its investors. "These changes will enable us to acquire more content and deliver an even better streaming experience."
While the timing of the price hike was left vague, new subscribers should expect to see rates jump to $8.99 or $9.99 by the end of June. Current subscribers will be grandfathered in at the $7.99 monthly fee "for a generous time period". Netflix tested a price hike in Ireland back in January and locked rates for current Irish subscribers for two years, so it seems likely that a similar period would be on offer for U.S. subscribers. But current subscribers are on notice: Netflix is going to raise your rates, too.
The Netflix price hike comes directly on the heels of a similar price increase from streaming video rival Amazon, which raised the cost of a Prime subscription by $20 per year, launching a public backlash and a mad scramble to lock in the $79 membership fee.
Netflix is billed monthly, which helps to obscure the total annual cost of a subscription from its users. The annual cost of a streaming-only subscription would increase by $12 or $24, bringing the total cost of a Netflix account to as much as $119.88 per year. That's up to $20.88 more than Amazon Prime, which also offers free 2-day shipping on thousands of items and a Kindle Lending Library. Amazon also just struck a deal with HBO to offer some of its original programming through Amazon Instant Video, which vastly improves its appeal as a Netflix alternative. (Not the latest season of Game of Thrones, alas...)
But if all of this talk of price hikes makes you think that the only legal way to watch movies online is to pay for them, you would be 100% wrong. We've rounded up the best free online movie sources that we could find. While you're not likely to find many new releases in here, all of them are free, none require any silliness like filling out a zillion surveys, and all of them will keep you on the right side of the law.
28 Legal Ways to Watch Movies and TV Online for Free
Our Top 5 Favorites
The secret to Yidio is that it aggregates movies from Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Crackle and many other video streaming services, setting itself up as a sort of online hub. Unfortunately, that also means that many of the movies on offer here require subscriptions to those services. The coolest part, though, is that for any given movie you're offered your choice of streaming service. For example, All Dogs Go to Heaven is hosted free on Yidio, but you can also add it to your Netflix DVD queue, stream it via Amazon Prime with a membership, or rent it on Amazon, iTunes or Vudu - and all of those options are presented for users to choose from. There are plenty of movies from free sources, and we found more than enough to keep us busy for awhile.
Backed by Sony and available on some streaming devices like Roku, Crackle's selection of classics and more recent releases might make you wonder what you were really paying for over at Netflix anyway. The TV here is pretty excellent too, with original productions like Chosen and meaty cult favorites like The Shield and Damages.
Regular users of streaming video already know that Hulu is the go-to service for TV content, but many don't realize that Hulu also offers a limited selection of movies that you can stream for free. While you won't find any new releases, or even many movies that you've heard of, we did spot the original Dragon Tattoo Trilogy, Highlander, and a healthy dose of kung fu.
Got a library card? If your local public library is hooked into Hoopla, you can use it to check out streaming music and video. As of March 2014, there were 256 partner libraries using Hoopla nationwide, in both big cities like Boston and smaller communities like Hastings, Nebraska, and more communities are coming online every day. You can check out this map to see if Hoopla is available where you live.
We love SnagFilms for the stylish look and for the way they present their movies. We love the Film School 101 category, for those of us who "don't have $80K to drop on a film school degree", as well as the nod to Autism Awareness Month that calls out autism documentaries. Of all of the sites we looked at, SnagFilms feels the most curated and lovingly cared for.
Read the rest of this entry »