Netflix is considering charging more for access to HDR content, as a test reveals plans to introduce a new 'Ultra' pricing tier.
Some Netflix customers in Europe have spotted the new price plan appear on the site, priced at €16.99 ($19.80) a month, which would likely come out at $19.99 in the US, a significant jump up from Premium, which currently costs $13.99.
There are currently three Netflix subscription plans in the US. Basic costs $7.99, Standard costs $10.99 and lets users stream to two different screens at once (a phone and a TV, for example), and Premium - which allows for four screens and includes Ultra HD content with HDR, Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos where available - costs $13.99.
In late 2017, US Netflix customers saw the prices rise from $9.99 to $10.99 for Standard, and from $11.99 to $13.99 for Premium. Basic remained at $7.99 per month.
The new Ultra plan, as reported by Italian tech blog Tutto Android, includes Ultra HD content and lets users stream to four screens at once. Promotional material published by the blog shows how, under this new system, Premium continues to offer Ultra HD, but only to two displays. Essentially, if this trial is taken mainstream, Premium subscribers will get less for their money.
Netflix could soon charge more for HDR videoiStock
Another problem for Premium subscribers is how the test limits HDR video and HD audio to the new Ultra tier. This means that, if this new pricing structure goes ahead, Premium subscribers will lose access to HDR and Dolby Vision content, unless they pay more. It is likely that 'HD audio' refers to Dolby Atmos, which is currently available to Premium subscribers, but could also be taken away and made exclusive to Ultra subscribers.
Netflix is clearly experimenting to see how much more customers will pay for HDR (high dynamic range) content, and for the ability to watch three or four streams at once. This latter feature is useful when family members each have their own login for one account, and tend to watch different programs at the same time.
A Netflix spokesperson said: "We continuously test new things at Netflix and these tests typically vary in length of time. In this case, we are testing slightly different price points and features to better understand how consumers value Netflix."