Is Saving $1/Month Worth Entirely Ditching HD On Netflix?

Netflix-SD-tierNetflix has begun testing a new pricing option for some streaming customers. It’s $1/month cheaper than the standard $7.99/month plan most customers pay for. What do you give up to save that dollar? HD access and the ability to stream videos on multiple devices simultaneously.

The $6.99 plan, which the company says will not necessarily be offered to everyone, limits all streaming to standard definition and only allows the subscriber to have one device streaming Netflix video at a time. That means no HD streaming and no account-sharing, even within your own family. The standard $7.99 plan allows for one account to have two users streaming simultaneously, and there is an $11.99/month plan that ups that limit to four simultaneous streams.

For people that watch Netflix over dependable high-speed broadband connections straight to their TVs, giving up the HD option may not seem like a worthwhile exchange to only save a dollar. But customers with slower and less reliable Internet access — or people who primarily watch Netflix on their wireless devices — may be able to save a buck without seeing too noticeable a dip in quality. Having not been able to compare the streams side-by-side it’s impossible to say for sure.

Netflix is likely hoping that this option might help ease some of the tensions between the company and cable/Internet providers, some of whom have been accused of deliberately allowing Netflix feeds to become backed up during peak periods, rather than taking simple steps to ease the logjam.

Most streaming rental services, including iTunes and Amazon, offer customers both HD and SD options, with the HD version usually costing a little more to rent or purchase. And Netflix already allows customers the option of receiving a lower-quality stream so as to not be such a data hog.

For now, Netflix is simply positioning the lower-priced tier as a test option that may not even be rolled out.

“We always are testing new things and this is a test for a $6.99 single stream plan,” a Netflix rep tells AdWeek. “Not all people will see this option and it may not be something we ever offer generally.”

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