Netflix to offer more streams at once with family plans

Netflix will soon offer “family plans” for its streaming video service, according to the company’s investors relations page.

While details of the plans were not disclosed, it is likely that a family plan would allow Netflix customers to add multiple users to a single account at a discounted price.

From the Investors FAQ:

The evolution toward individual memberships will take time, and we are still thinking about how to best do it. One option would be to allow an account to add additional concurrent streams (using the analogy of our DVD business, it would be like choosing a higher-priced plan that allows a subscriber to have more DVDs at home). Our $7.99-per-month plan is for one stream at a time, and later this year we expect to be able to offer consumers some account options to watch multiple simultaneous streams. Or it could be that there is a price point that would encourage multiple accounts in one household.

The comparison with Netflix’s DVD business suggests that the restriction of only being able to watch one video stream at a time would remain in place for each of the users on a streaming-only account, but again nothing official was stated.

Currently, the only way users can watch multiple streams on one account is if they subscribe to receive multiple DVDs at a time, (meaning plans that allow up to three separate DVD rentals at a time would be allowed to watch three different streams).

However, as Netflix has said many times in the past, the future of the company lies in streaming video and not rentals. I’d assume the ability to watch multiple streams will eventually disappear because it makes less sense to watch two videos at the same time and far more to make every user’s account unique to that customer.

But beyond the mechanics of a family tiered subscription model, it allows the company to personalize each user’s experience, which would make integrating with social media tools much easier and would also improve the recommendation engine.

Also, since new subscriber growth will eventually slow down, family plans would give Netflix a way to grow revenue from current customers.

Via Gigaom