Netflix is increasing monthly fees for its US subscribers by between 13 percent and 18 percent, the video streaming pioneer’s first price increase since 2017 as it spends heavily on original content and international expansion.
This was disclosed in a statement by the company that prices for its popular standard plan, which allows streaming on two devices at the same time, will rise to $12.99 (R177.52) per month from $10.99.
Netflix shares rose 6.5 percent to close at $354.64, adding to their 30 percent rise so far this year, the company’s top-tier plan, which allows streaming on four screens in high definition, will increase to $15.99 from $13.99 per month, while the fee for its basic plan will rise to $8.99 from $7.99.
In comparison, AT&T’s HBO Now streaming service charges $14.99 per month, while Hulu’s no-advertisements plan is priced at $11.99 per month.
The Pivotal Research Group analyst Jeff Wlodarczak, said, “It highlights that Netflix has pricing power and even after the increase it remains a very cheap entertainment alternative.”
Netflix has been spending billions to bolster its original content, which boasts award-winning shows such as “The Crown,” “Black Mirror” and “Wild Wild Country” to fend off intensifying competition from players such as Amazon.com’s (AMZN.O) Prime Video service and Hulu. It was reported that the company had 137 million customers at the end of September.
The price hikes are expected to fetch Netflix hundreds of millions of dollars, ahead of the launch of streaming services from AT&T and Walt Disney.
While aggressive spending – a planned $8 billion in 2018 – has led to a surge in subscriber growth, its debt doubled to $6.50 billion in 2017 from $3.36 billion in 2016.
According to Daniel Morgan, senior portfolio manager at Synovus Trust Co, which owns 15,019 shares of Netflix, disclosed that the company is expected to have a debt level of $8.33 billion in 2018.
“With Netflix frequently tapping the debt markets on several recent occasions, the price hike could help ease concerns with a growing deficit on free cash flow to fund a likely continued escalation in Netflix’s content spending, which likely topped $13 billion in 2018,” CFRA analyst Tuna Amobi added.
However, Prices for Netflix will remain the same in South Africa.