A few months ago, the team at YouTubeTV raised their prices to pretty much match traditional cable television rates. They justified their egregious price increase by saying they were adding new channels (the Viacom family of channels, among others) and investing in new technology. I, and many others, did not like the price increase at all and I, for one, thought it was insulting. The entire promise of digital “cable” programs like YouTubeTV, Hulu, Sling, etc. is the ability for the consumer to leave behind excessively-priced traditional cable companies and move to a more consumer-friendly and consumer-focused product where they can receive what amounts to a la carte programming. Forcing new channels on consumers without their agreement just feels too much like the traditional cable companies to me and if this is the way that YouTubeTV is going to operate, then I probably will not stay with them too much longer.
When YouTubeTV raised their prices, I contemplated canceling and being done with cable/streaming television for the second time in two years as I previously canceled Xfinity/Comcast a year and a half or so ago and then just didn’t have cable television for about six months (it was great). However, given that I use the family option provided by YouTubeTV (where others in my family can have their own YouTubeTV account under mine), I decided not to cancel the service… for now.
The one thing that I can say in favor of YouTubeTV and their awful, consumer-unfriendly price increase is that they (poorly) explained the need for the bump in price by providing an analysis of how the increase in the number of channels offered resulted in an increase in the price charged. Okay, fair enough (not “good enough” because it was a terrible decision by YouTubeTV, but fair – I get it). Well, Netflix recently announced that they are raising their prices and sent out this incredibly insulting, non-explanation email that is riddled with more corporate sales speak than actual information and justification. Check it out:
The subject line of this email is, “We’re updating our prices — here’s why.” One would read that subject line and think, “Okay, let’s see what the increase in membership fees is going to be used on this time.” And then you read that email and all they say is that they’re going to keep doing what they’re doing. They justify the fee increase by saying, “This update will allow us to deliver even more value for your membership — with stories that lift you up, move you or simply make your day a little better.”
What does that mean? How, exactly, is Netflix going to bring me “stories that lift you up, move you or simply make your day a little better?” What an awful message to send to your customers! Why not drop the corporate sales speak and, instead, tell your customers the truth? Why not just say, “Hey, production costs are not decreasing and licensing fees aren’t going down either, so if you want us to stay around and if want us to continue making our own shows for you to watch, then we need to charge a little bit more, okay?” What is so wrong with the truth?
Perhaps they do not want to come off as greedy by telling us the truth. Or perhaps that is exactly what the issue is here – corporate greed. Why might this be where my mind goes when thinking about Netflix? That’s easy – they just reported earnings of $6.44 billion (that’s billion with a B, folks). Yeah, they really seem like a company that needs to increase fees on their customers… during a pandemic…