Netflix mulling support for multiple streams?

Netflix has successfully leveraged its position as the leader in the DVD rental market to the leader of the video streaming market—but the company is still looking for ways to expand its share—and its revenues. Right now on the “streaming-only” plan, Netflix famously limits one streaming selection to a subscriber account at a time: if you’re watching a TV show via Netflix on your iPad, you can’t use the Wii in the basement to connect to the same Netflix account and access another selection via online streaming, for example. Users could pay more and upgrade their service–if you change to the “two-discs at a time” plan which includes streaming, you will get two streams, “three at a time gets you three streams”, etc.–but if you prefer the $7.99 a month for a streaming-only account, the upgraded account options can get expensive fast. Unless household members are constantly fighting over the Netflix stream the way previous generations used to fight over remote controls, it may not be a worthwhile extra expenditure.


Now, however, there are hints that Netflix might be looking to change that—for a fee, of course. In a Q&A document posted to Netflix’s investor Web site, Netflix notes that it might be more appropriate for it to change its subscription plans from a one-subscription-per-household model to a one-subscription-per-individual model. That would enable individual household members to manage their own queues and ratings (although Netflix already supports a form of multiple identities per account for ratings purposes) and avoid stream-contention issues. However, another option Netflix is considering is analogous to a premium DVD rental plan: where premium customers can pay more to rent a larger number of DVDs at the same time, maybe they can pay more to receive a larger number of streams at the same time.

Netflix also indicates it is working on broader integration with Facebook, presumably to make it easier for users to recommend and share show and movie recommendations with friends.

[This article has been updated to clarify Netflix’s multiple pricing options]

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