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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Netflix cracking down on concurrent streaming rules, deal with it




Since getting a Netflix account I have always marveled at how Mrs. Gadget Guy could be watching a streaming movie at the gym while our daughter was watching one on her MacBook at the same time that our son was watching one through our Mac TV. "What an incredible value," I thought. Even after the recent price increase is still seemed like a great value. My monthly Netflix bill is now $17.98 and that includes unlimited streaming and unlimited Blu-ray DVD rentals with one DVD out at a time. I didn't realize, however, that my account included streaming to just one device at a time. Why didn't I realize it? Because that rule was not being enforced by Netflix.

This week tech blogs and Twitter feeds have been buzzing with the realization that Netflix is finally enforcing their own rules. People are finding they can only stream one movie at a time and they're complaining about it. You know what I have to say about that? Deal with it or get a lawyer. The Netflix agreement clearly states that you're only allowed to concurrently stream the same number of movies as the DVDs you can concurrently have out on your account. Here it is, in plain English:

"YOU MAY INSTANTLY WATCH ON UP TO SIX UNIQUE AUTHORIZED NETFLIX READY DEVICES. YOU WILL BE ALLOWED TO INSTANTLY WATCH SIMULTANEOUSLY ON ONLY ONE SUCH DEVICE AT ANY GIVEN TIME. For certain membership plans in the United States, you may instantly watch simultaneously on more than one Netflix ready device within your household. Click here to view the number of devices on which you may simultaneously view movies & TV shows that are associated with your plan. The number of devices and concurrent streams may change without notice to you. For certain limited membership plans in the United States, your available Netflix ready device may be limited to personal computers."

And did you notice that last line? It says on some membership plans you may be limited to watching on personal computers. Woah! That means it's possible some of the less-expensive accounts could be set so that you can't watch streaming movies on a smartphone or tablet. Checking just now on my account is says I can watch on a PC, Mac or TV with no mention of mobile devices. So far I can still watch on my iPhone and iPad, but if they start blocking mobile use on some accounts, this issue is really going to explode.


But the thing is, it's Netflix's right to protect their bandwidth and enforce these rules. Yeah, they didn't handle their price increase with a lot of grace and that left a bad taste in the mouths of many. Maybe the price increase was caused by them giving away free bandwidth for so long that they needed to recover some of their losses. In any case, you have a choice and if you don't like the changes you can bail. Or you can suck it up and realize you had it good for awhile at Netflix's expense and just get over it.

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 7, 2011 5:40pm]


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