Netflix rate hikes hit this week

Netflix will soon inaugurate its new pricing plan. But don't expect a mass exodus.

Netflix price changes go into effect this week. Here, an Xbox 360 streams Netflix content onto a television screen.

Netflix subscribers: It's time to put your money where your mouth is. Beginning on Thursday, Sept. 1, Netflix will officially inaugurate its new pricing plan, which raises the rates on streaming video, and introduces a couple of new DVD-only options. This is the same plan, you'll remember, that incited so much wrath among Netflix users, and clogged Twitter and Facebook for days with furious, how-could-they-do-this-to-us status updates.

An informal poll conducted by Business Insider in July showed that an astonishing 41 percent of users were considering canceling their subscription to Netflix entirely; some 40 percent of the readership over at Geekwire expressed a similar sentiment. So will Netflix actually see a mass exodus of users? Well, no. Probably not. For one, it's a lot easier to click on an informal poll – or send an angry message via Twitter – than it is to pack up and leave Netflix.

Sure, Netflix has its problems. The movie selection can be spotty, and the quality of streaming video can dip and dive. And no, price hikes don't make anyone happy. At the same time, there are few other companies right now that are offering what Netflix is offering. Hulu Plus has some good TV shows, but not a lot of movies. iTunes charges by the download, and there's no streaming to be had.

There are threats, of course, including Wal-Mart’s Vudu, which boasts a library of about 10,000 movies. According to Arash Amel of analytics firm IHS, Vudu is already "a major market rival to established players like Apple and Sony;" for a young service, its market share is strong. With the marketing might of Wal-Mart, there's no reason why Vudu couldn't eventually come to rival Netflix.

But Vudu still requires users to stream content through a Vudu Box, as opposed to the instant simplicity of Netflix on PCs, PS3s, Xboxes, Wiis, phones, etc. Our guess: In the next couple weeks, Netflix will see a small percentage of users up and leave. But the majority will stay right where they are.

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