Are You Still Watching: The ‘Rise’ of Netflix

Since the outbreak of Coronavirus, we have found ourselves globally locked down in our homes away from our jobs, friends and families. So, with little to do, we turned to the arts.

In 2020, Netflix gained just under 16 million new subscribers, which makes their worldwide total audience 182.9 million. Nevertheless, Netflix has recently announced an increase in their subscription fees. The standard monthly package will be set to rise from £8.99 to £9.99 and the premium package from £11.99 to £13.99, whilst the standard remains the same.This announcement has amassed a largely negative reaction, and, as a Netflix subscriber myself, I understand these frustrations. Netflix has not only been a space for entertainment but a source of comfort and a distraction to help us escape from the anxieties of our new reality and, in my case, the stresses of having to move back home in my twenties. But, with the UK in a third national lockdown, all I can ask is why now?

According to Netflix, they claim to have upped their prices to improve the ‘Netflix experience and invest in quality content for [their] subscribers around the world’. Whilst this is presented as a positive, with the promise of new content, Netflix fails to take into account the additional pressures that their audience is under as, throughout this pandemic many people have found themselves without jobs or income. Therefore the increase of Netflix’ fees has created an additional financial burden to add to the already existing pressures we find ourselves under, but this is not unexpected. The rise of film and TV streaming has been a revelation and a shock; whilst it has allowed film into our homes in a way never achieved before, it relies heavily upon money. When you take into account additional companies such as Disney +, which has also opted to increase its subscription fee by £2 in 2021, the price of entertainment starts to become inaccessible.

So, when does this start becoming a pattern? If Netflix claims the rise in fees will allow them to create new original content whilst expanding their global connections in a constantly evolving and expanding industry, then I wonder if the fees will ever stop rising.   

Image courtesy of Mollie Sivaram.

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