Gallery: New Netflix Pricing Could Save Energy by Encouraging Streaming


Movie watchers everywhere let out a gasp when Netflix announced last week that they’d be upping the price for their services starting this coming September — they reportedly had to bring on additional help to answer the phone calls pouring in from angry subscribers. Although a price hike never has a welcome impact on our wallets, as GOOD points out it could be greeted with a warm welcome from the Earth. The price hike means that unlimited streaming and unlimited DVD’s in the mail will each be $7.99 per month starting September 1st – and according to research done last year by University of Massachusetts, Amherst, streaming uses 78% less energy than shipping.

Unlike previously, you won’t get unlimited streaming automatically with your DVD shipments – so unlimited DVD’s and unlimited streaming together will come at a cost of $15.98 a month ($7.99 plus $7.99). That equals a six-dollar price hike from before. It turns out that Netflix is already more earth-friendly than driving to the store to pick up a DVD in your car — it’s a different story on foot or by bike.

If we all banded together we could reduce our total DVD watching carbon emissions with a couple of changes. The University of Massachusetts, Amherst study pointed out that streaming could use 1/3 less energy and just 65% of the carbon that shipping does if servers in the Netflix network — and other streaming sites — were updated with the latest energy efficient technology. They also found that watching videos is by far the most energy-consuming piece of the equation – when you slip that DVD into a player and turn on your TV or open your laptop to stream online you’re using three to five times as much energy as it took to get that image to your doorstep — or internet connection. On the other hand, streaming videos on your laptop beats out a plasma screen TV by a boatload of energy.



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  1. msyin August 4, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    I am currently a Nextflix customer and have to agree with the comments made by caeman and Nousya. While I only use a laptop for my entertainment, I don’t see this as a green victory even though the stats are great. The real issue isn’t even the price but the lack of relevant, desirable content that I will have available to me via streaming.

    Right now I don’t even have 20 movies on my list to be mailed to me, because everything I really want to see has not come out on DVD yet and when it does, I won’t see it via Netflix because when Sept 1 comes I will not pay the $15.98 for what I am currently using. If they made movies available for streaming as soon as they came out on DVD, that would be great and then we could all save money and CO2 by just streaming them into our home.

    Something Hollywood could think about for their future.

  2. caeman July 18, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    I am one of those disgruntled customers. The problem is that the selection of streaming on Netflix sucks compared to their DVD selections. That streaming is more energy efficient doesn’t do you any good when the movie you want to stream is only on DVD.

  3. Nousya July 18, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    Could save even more energy by not watching movies at all

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