Fans of Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX ) as both a mail-order DVD and streaming service will be in for a major shock when their bills spike dramatically come September.
Netflix is separating the services; while disc-based plans will essentially be $2 cheaper than they used to be, access to Netflix's growing catalog of streaming titles will set couch potatoes back an additional $7.99 a month.
If this smells like an opportunity to cash in on the likely spike in churn and folks shuffling subscription plans, you're not alone. Hulu's current owners will now likely be able to smoke out higher bids for their ad-supported streaming service.
Let's go over five other companies that will probably love this move.
Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN )
The leading online retailer quietly introduced streaming of select titles to its Prime loyalty shopping customers at no additional charge in February. Its thousands of largely obscure movies and television shows were no match for Netflix's wider catalog, but things are different now.
Adding streaming to a Netflix DVD plan for $7.99 a month will be more than worth it to some diehard movie buffs. However, settling for Amazon's free streams for those already paying $79 a year to receive free two-day shipping on Amazon-warehoused goods through Prime will be more of a consideration.
How bad is Amazon's Prime catalog? Well, let's just say that Highlander, Superman, and The Right Stuff are among the 20 most popular streams as of last night. The upside here is that Amazon originally announced that 5,000 movies and television show titles were originally available. The digital catalog is now up to 6,000 titles.
Then again, it's not as if Netflix's streaming really had the hot new releases you wanted to see anyway. A Netflix DVD plan paired with Prime streaming will be a popular cost-shaving move.
Coinstar (Nasdaq: CSTR )
While some people may choose to say goodbye to Netflix streaming, those who were heavy users may decide to nix the disc component of their plans to save some serious scratch.
Coinstar's Redbox will be there to fill the need for dollar rentals of new DVD releases that are unlikely to be offered in streaming from through Netflix in the near term.
Redbox has been hyping up a digital strategy that it has yet to act on, though it's widely believed to be an offering that will combine its kiosk-based DVD rentals with some streaming element.
Note to Coinstar: This summer would be a great time to introduce something.
DISH Network (Nasdaq: DISH )
The country's second-largest satellite television company seems to be biting off more than it can chew with Blockbuster, but now it has the perfect reason to keep those stores open and begin promoting its Netflix-esque DVD plan again.
Did you know that Blockbuster now offers video games and Blu-ray discs through its mail-delivered plans at no additional costs? Several in-store exchanges are also available to sweeten the pot.
Blockbuster will now have the leverage to either market its multiplatform mail-based plans more aggressively, or dramatically juice its margins by bumping rates higher.
NCR (NYSE: NCR )
NCR is best known for its ATMs, but it's also responsible for the Blockbuster Express kiosks aiming to eat into Redbox's share of the market.
DISH is trying to get the licensed trademark for Blockbuster Express back. Regardless of who wins that claim, NCR still owns and operates the kiosks. It could simply roll out a new name if push came to shove.
Best Buy (NYSE: BBY )
Traditional retailers may see a spike in DVD sales as folks duck out of Netflix's mail-based buffet.
Best Buy and Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT ) sell a ton of DVDs already. The same can also be said about Amazon. Obviously, folks who've been spoiled by unlimited rentals have grown to devalue the DVD. They probably won't buy many new discs, but every little bit helps.
What about Netflix? Will it win here, too? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.