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Netflix Testing ‘Ultra’ Subscriptions, Which Could Make Users Pay More For the Same Service

While it's only a test for now, "Ultra" appears to allow Netflix to charge more for the same by shuffling its benefits among four tiers.

Black digital calculator on the top view white background; Shutterstock ID 674224573

Shutterstock / Paisit Teeraphatsakool

Netflix is testing a more-expensive subscription plan that could reserve HDR [high-dynamic range] for only its top-tier subscribers. In addition to the streaming service’s offerings of Basic, Standard, and Premium, tech bloggers in Europe spotted a new “Ultra” plan in several countries.

Despite its name, Ultra appears to offer no improvements in service; instead; it allows Netflix to charge more by shuffling its benefits among four tiers. The European tests show a couple of versions of what Ultra could mean: One version removes HDR from all plan levels except Ultra, while another halved the number of screens on which Premium members can watch Ultra HD content. HDR provides more contrast for light and dark images onscreen; Netflix made some of its programming HDR compatible last year.

In the US, a basic plan lets you stream on one device in standard definition; the standard plan ups the devices to two and permits HD; and premium permits four devices and includes Ultra HD.

Read More: The 7 Best Movies New to Netflix in July 2018

According to screengrabs from Italian website Tutto Android, Ultra enrollees pay €16.99/month; Premium members pay €13.99. Meanwhile, Cordcutting.com encountered €16.99/month and €19.99/month price tags for the Ultra plan in Germany, depending on what browser was in use.

“We continuously test new things at Netflix and these tests typically vary in length of time,” said a Netflix rep in a statement. “In this case, we are testing slightly different price points and features to better understand how consumers value Netflix. Not everyone will see this test and we may not ever offer the specific price points or features included in this test.”

When asked if all current Premium subscribers would lose either Ultra HD ability on two devices, or all HDR capabilities, if the Ultra plan is implemented longterm, Netflix told IndieWire via email, “We don’t disclose details on any active tests,” adding, “We may not actually ever roll out anything we are testing.”

For Americans, a Basic Netflix membership costs $7.99. This October, the Los Gatos, Calif.-headquartered media disruptor raised the price of its other two plans; the Standard subscription increased a dollar, to $10.99/month, while the Premium subscription climbed two dollars to $13.99. Since January 2016, Netflix — which releases very little viewership data — has been available in 190 countries.

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