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Netflix Flip-Flops on Streaming

By Swanni

Washington, D.C. (September 7, 2011) -- Is Netflix feeling the heat?

Just days after subscribers said Netflix was preventing them from watching more than one streaming video at a time -- and hours after the media exposed the alleged action -- the online rental service said this morning that the whole thing was a big misunderstanding.

"No Netflix member is limited to less than two concurrent streams. A few Netflix members have heard differently from us, which is an error that we are correcting," the company told the tech web site GigaOm after today's press reports.

Several news reports today said Netflix had
launched a new policy that permits subscribers to only stream one program at a time.

The new policy apparently prevented two or more people who share a Netflix account in the same household from watching different shows via streaming at the same time. This would be bad news for subscribers who own multiple devices in the house that offer Netflix streaming.

Subscribers reported receiving error messages during the Labor Day weekend when they tried to watch two streaming videos at the same time.

After TVPredictions.com reported on the development early this morning, we received several angry e-mails from readers saying they would immediately cancel their Netflix service.

It's hard to say if Netflix's GigaOm comment is in response to a subscriber backlash, or if Netflix is correct in saying that it never planned to stop multiple streaming. The company's 'terms of service' agreement has long stated subscribers could only stream on one device at a time, but that restriction was never enforced until this weekend. That is, if it was enforced on purpose.

There's no doubt that the new streaming rule would have further alienated Netflix subscribers who are still smarting over the company's new pricing structure. Starting this month, current Netflix subscribers can no longer watch streaming and rent DVDs/Blu-ray movies for the same monthly price of $7.99.

Instead, subscribers who want to stream will have to pay $7.99 a month, but not be able to rent discs. Likewise, disc renters who pay $7.99 a month will not be able to stream. To have access to both options, you will have to pay a minimum of $15.99 a month.

Swanni is Phillip Swann, president and publisher of TVPredictions.com. He has been quoted in dozens of publications and broadcast outlets, including CNN, Fox News, Inside Edition, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Financial Times, The Associated Press and The Hollywood Reporter. He can be reached at swann@tvpredictions.com or at 703-505-3064.

Click TVPredictions.com to read more news and features on TV technology. 

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