Netflix is finally talking seriously about increasing prices.
For years, the streaming service in the U.S. has cost $7.99 per month. But analysts have said that in order for Netflix to cover its high content and expansion costs -- and more recently, to cover potential increased costs due to net neutrality issues -- it would only be a matter of time before the streaming video service had to increase its prices.
That time may be soon.
In its letter to shareholders on Wednesday, Netflix said that it hopes "to offer new members a selection of three simple options to fit everyone's taste."
Perhaps anticipating a backlash -- something the company's already been through -- Netflix emphasized in bold that price increases wouldn't affect existing members right away.
"If we do make pricing changes for new members, existing members would get generous grandfathering of their existing plans and prices, so there would be no material near-term revenue increase from moving to this potential broader set of options," the company wrote in a letter to shareholders.
When Netflix does start charging more, it may follow what it did in Ireland earlier this month, when it increased its price by one Euro, from 6.99 euros to 7.99 euros per month. But the company said that people in Ireland who already subscribed to Netflix will be grandfathered in to the 6.99 price for two years.
Netflix has been toying with different pricing options in the U.S. over the last year. In April, the company added an $11.99 monthly option that allows people to watch four streams at the same time. And at the end of last year, the company tested different membership plans for new members. They ranged from a $6.99 "individual plan" to a $9.99 plan that allowed up to three people on the same account to watch different streams concurrently.
Charging different prices for varying levels of video quality could be another option. One of the options Netflix experimented with at the end of last year was a "standard definition" plan for $6.99. The company could also use streaming in Ultra High Definition 4K, which is certainly in its nascent stages, as an opportunity to charge more.
In the letter, Netflix emphasized that it is taking its time in designing new pricing plans.
"We are in no rush to implement such new member plans and are still researching the best way to proceed," the company wrote.