Will Netflix ever put any kind of limit on it's Instant service?

I know it’s unlimited, but I’m curious if they’ll ever put any kind of restrictions on it. My sister (who lives with my other sister and my parents) has netflix instant. She and my other sister both routinely stream at the same time. Right off the bat, I figured they would only allow one device to stream on an account at a given time. Even though it’s unlimited, that would still seem fair to me. But what really made me wonder was another family friend of mine. They have 4 kids, all out of the house (you see where this is going, right). The parents have the Instant only account for $7.99 I believe. Each kid has a device that can stream. So now they have 5 devices, all streaming, all from different IP addresses. I have to assume at some point Netflix would put some sort of restrictions on it. I’m not sure what they would be, but even if it was, for example, one IP address at a time and two movies simultaneously would seem fair, though I suppose that might break the spirit of “unlimited”. OTOH, I have to wonder if it costs them so little to stream movies and so few people stream that many that it averages out in a way that they’re still making more then enough money for it to be worth it.
Kind of the same way that some people go though 30 movies a month while some only go through 2 or 3, but they both pay $20.

It’s really doubtful. Companies who try to go from offering unlimited service to limited get their asses bitten off by angry customers. Once you’ve opened the unlimited barn doors, there’s no putting the genie back in the bag.

They actually did limit service once upon a time, back when the streaming service was new. It was 1 hour of streaming per dollar of your subscription. That they went from that model to unlimited suggests they’re not planning on going back.

You are limited. You can only watch on x gadgets at a time, where x is the number of disks you can rent at once under your plan (don’t know what the limit is for their streaming only plan).

They also limit the total number of devices you can stream on, though I think you can just deauthorize one advice and add another if you hit that limit, so I don’t think that limit really does much.

Keep in mind that Netflix got in trouble for advertising unlimited (mail) service and then throttling people who rented too often.

(No, they didn’t send enforcers to choke the bejeesus out of people; they just artificially slowed down your DVD turnaround time)

Just as an aside, I know AT&T DSL and U-Verse are starting to put a cap on monthly limits. DSL at 150g and U-Verse at 250g download limit per month

If other ISPs follow this could put a spanner in Netflix

Netflix also “limits” streaming by constantly pulling movies from its streaming service, only to replace them with others. There’s a podcast that I listen to that sometimes does “commentary track”-style movie reviewing, and the reviewers tend to use Netflix streaming to do their reviews; occasionally the movie is no longer available for streaming by the time the film goes up for broadcast, IIRC.

With my ISP being Comcast, who’s own business model of “On Demand” programming is in direct compititon with Netflix Streaming and who is also run by a cluster of demons from the 9th circle of Hell I fully expect them to somehow decide to throttle my internet as a business decision instead of trying to improve their own programming.

Netflix is happy to have people using the digital service. Bandwidth is cheap at probably a few cents a movie, compared to the hassle of having sorting facilities and mail and inventory and all the stuff that comes with non-instant rentals. The more people satisfy their movie urges through instants rather than swapping DVDs, the more money netflix makes. So there’s no reason for them to put limited service on it - unless maybe it’s some sort of crazy limit, like people can only watch 10 hours a day or something, if for some reason someone is abusing the service.

Without any limit to streaming, a lot of people will share their accounts with their extended friends/family, and those people won’t bother to buy Netflix accounts. As in the case of the OP, where five different households are using the same account, cutting Netflixes paying customer base by 80%.

As I said, they do actually have a limit on the number of people that can use streaming from the same account, but its pretty generous. I wouldn’t be suprised if Netflix made it less so if their business continues to come increasingly from people using their instant-watch service.

Probably not, now that AT&T has done it for them.

But that wouldn’t stop members who let people outside their household stream from their account.
I guess that’s really what I’m asking. Will they attempt to put a stop to that?
As I said earlier, I could see them even implementing a rule that says they’ll only stream one movie per account at a time and still being able to call it unlimited. On the one hand, it’s possible that so few people are gaming the system that it’s not worth the bad publicity right now, on the other hand, they might want to nip it in the bud before it become commonplace. OTOOH, it might be so cheap to stream a movie that unless someone people start streaming hundreds of movies per month per account they might still be making plenty of money.
Also, I have to wonder if trying to keep this all at bay is part of the reason that they have such a limited Instant selection. I few weeks ago I dropped down from 3 at a time to 1 at a time and was pretty unimpressed by the instant selection. Though I did find a website that lists all the new instant movies as well as movies about to expire.
http://feedfliks.com/streaming

Just this weekend we finally pointed netflix to our wii, what took us so long, even had the old netflix disc all this time and still…anyway a big old toldyou so to my famiglia…

NTL, so many titles unavailable,I wanted to watch my big fat greek wedding and a few others, but the kids found some funs stuff in TV episodes, Italia and creature comforts.

I may downgrade to just the streaming option soon…

I did the same, and yes, the instant selection is pretty unimpressive overall. I find it helps to think of it as a mom-and-pop video store where you can always find something worth watching if you browse the aisles long enough, but if you go looking for a specific title you’re probably SOL.

I think they will. Some say Netflix accounts for 20% of Internet usage. As they add more and more subscribers, they will reach limits on how much bandwidth they can provide to all that demand it, and they’re already butting heads with Comcast over bandwidth (apparently Comcast provides bandwidth to Netflix.) If nothing else Netflix might start limiting you to one device streaming at a time.

Everything I’ve read points to reluctant studios who don’t want to lose out on selling DVDs as the primary reason.

As for different devices and connections, I can only imagine that the number of portable devices (laptops, tablets, smart phones, game systems, etc) that can tap into Netflix would make restricting by IP or number of connections problematic. A single household could legitimately have someone at home using the service while someone with a tablet is using it on the bus and someone with a laptop is using it at school between classes.

Yup, that was my problem. Twice in a row, I called my 5 year old daughter in to the room to watch a movie.
Annie…Nope
Muppet Show…Nope
Mary Poppins…Nope
and so on and so forth. We ended up watching Look Who’s Talking.

I’m going to start keeping an eye on that site I linked to above. Part of the problem (IMHO) is that their instant selection seems to be really hard to browse though. I really can’t put my finger on what it is exactly. I think it may just be that I’m so used to being able to go to Netflix knowing what I want to watch and putting it on my Queue, where as with Netflix Instant, that tends not to work and I spend more time browsing, which I never really did on the regular Netflix site.

I’m just going to start checking that site I linked to from time to time and go from there. I would switch to Vudu, but it’s quite a but more expensive. $4 (at the lowest quality) and up per movie. I know some people love it, but that’s too much. Though I did get a $5.99 credit for signing up with them. I watched Black Swan last night, that would have been $5.99. I’d rather just wait until April 26 when it’s available from Netflix on Blu-ray and get it that way.

Fair enough, but again, I could see them saying one device at a time which would still allow for 24 hours of streaming media per day per account. I’d say they could limit the connected devices, but that’s just going to make things more complicated and won’t really do any good. For example, I have, I think, 6 devices connected right now, only one is ever used. The others were either from when I was trying to figure out which one would work best or if I was at work and trying to show someone part of a movie etc…I think plenty of people will go over on the device count for legit reasons. I don’t see an IP address thing working, for what you mentioned and just because the majority of the world doesn’t have static IP addresses and that would cause all kinds of problems.

Of course, I’m not butting up against any kind of limit they would ever be imposing, and I don’t really care if other people do so long as it doesn’t drive my price up. I’m just curious if they ever would do something like this.

When Netflix started streaming they did have limits depending on what plan you had. The three at a time plan was limited to 20 hours a month. That only lasted about a year, so I’d be surprised if they go back.

Looking at my 3 disc at a time account, I can only activate 6 unique devices to watch instant streaming on. So, in that way they do limit the number of devices. Of course, 6 is plenty. I believe this number only applies to non computer devices. (PS3, Wii, Roku, DVD players0 But, for most people watching on a TV is preferable, and easier to accomplish using one of those devices. So, maybe they just don’t care about people gaming the system using PCs.

I read an article from December that was complaining that there are “only” 20,000 titles (up from 15,000 two years earlier, so he sees that as lackluster) for instant. What?? How do you magically access more 19,000 titles that don’t seem to appear on the wii or my online account? If the author meant that there are 20,000 titles available at all times, rather than a rotation of 20k that have ever at one point been offered, I’m doing something really wrong when I browse.