Netflix Quietly Starts Charging New Subscribers A Premium For 4K Content

The transition from Full HD 1080 to 4K Ultra HD is taking place faster than anyone could have anticipated, though it comes at a cost. In addition to purchasing new hardware capable of displaying 4K visuals, on the content side, Netflix decided now was a good time to get customers used to idea of paying extra for Ultra HD streaming.

New Netflix subscribers living in the U.S. must sign up for the "Family" plan at $11.99 per month in order to access the service's limited number of Ultra HD streams. Previously it was included in the regular $8.99 plan, which itself was $7.99 earlier this year.

Netflix 4K

Netflix says it costs more to acquire and produce 4K content, hence why it's now included only as part of a higher-priced subscription tier. However, like the $1 price hike Netflix rolled out earlier this year, only new subscribers are affected by this -- existing subscribers are grandfathered in and don't have to worry about the added cost for the next two years.

"We decided to move 4K UHD video into our four-stream plan for new members who sign up and care about the highest-quality video Netflix offers," a Netflix spokesman told Variety. "We have a modest and growing catalog of titles in 4K, including ‘House of Cards,’ ‘Breaking Bad,’ ‘The Blacklist’ and a slate of upcoming Netflix original series."

Simply put, that $3 premium works out to $36 per year. As previously mentioned, you also need a TV capable of handing 4K content (note that only select models support Ultra HD streaming from Netflix), plus at least a 25Mbps Internet connection, as recommended by Netflix.