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Recode Daily: Netflix hikes prices for its 58 million US subscribers

Plus: The Trump administration ordered 46,000 furloughed government employees back to work without pay; YouTube issues new rules for creators about dangerous stunts; Nike disrupts shoelaces with its iPhone-controlled smart sneakers.

An actor at a Netflix conference table is showered with cash while a woman sits by and applauds.
Mikey Day as a Netflix executive during the “Netflix Commercial” sketch on Saturday Night Live, December 1, 2018.
Rosalind O’Connor /NBC / Getty Images

Netflix has raised prices for all of its 58 million US subscribers — the biggest price hike since the streaming service’s launch 12 years ago. The price of its most popular plan — the 2S plan that includes high-definition quality — has increased from $10.99 to $12.99 per month; its basic plan went from $7.99 to $8.99; and its premium 4S plan that includes ultra-high-definition quality has increased from $13.99 to $15.99. In comparison, HBO Now’s basic plan is $14.99, while Hulu charges $11.99 for its ad-free subscription. The price hike comes as Netflix is set to lose all its Disney content when Disney introduces its own video-streaming platform this year. The influx of money will also help pay for Netflix’s heavy investments in original shows and movies to compete with rival streaming services like Disney’s new platform and Amazon Prime. Netflix reports fourth-quarter earnings on Thursday. [Tasneem Nashrulla / BuzzFeed News]

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The Trump administration ordered 46,000 furloughed government employees back to work without pay, including food and plane safety inspectors and those tasked with issuing tax refunds. Amid the lapse in federal funding, paychecks for some 800,000 government workers have been halted, including about 420,000 who have been forced to work anyway. The National Treasury Employees Union is suing the federal government for making those employees work without pay. Officials from Washington to Wall Street are pondering nightmare scenarios if the shutdown — at 26 days, already the longest on record — extends into spring or beyond. [Jennifer A Dlouhy / Bloomberg]

William Barr, President Trump’s nominee for attorney general, said during his confirmation hearing that he wants to examine the relationship between tech giants and antitrust officials who have allowed those companies to grow to their current size, and how tech companies handle user data. Barr did not indicate if he would push for tougher stances on the tech industry, but he did say that he believes “a lot of people” are curious to know how antitrust enforcers allowed tech companies to become “huge behemoths.” Barr also said that he personally supports prohibiting marijuana across the US, but would not go after cannabis businesses that comply with state regulations and a rescinded Justice Department memo.[Harper Neidig / The Hill]

Internet radio company Pandora launched its own in-app voice assistant for mobile users — you can call it up at any time by saying “Hey Pandora,” followed by a request to play the specific music or podcasts you want to hear. Available for iOS and Android users, the Voice Mode feature is also capable of delivering results customized to vague commands or those related to activity or mood, like “play workout music” or “play something I like.” The company reports strong adoption of its service on voice-activated speakers, like Amazon Echo devices, where millions of listeners already launch Pandora music by speaking — a trend that inspired the move to launch in-app voice control. [Sarah Perez / TechCrunch]

YouTube has a new message for creators looking to participate in dangerous or potentially harmful stunts, like the Bird Box or Tide Pod stunts: Don’t. The company revealed new policies that creators must follow when uploading content; one of the biggest changes is a section dedicated entirely to dangerous pranks. YouTube creators have a history of participating in dangerous challenges — including Jake Paul driving blindfolded to participate in the Bird Box challenge, teens eating poisonous Tide Pods for another challenge, and even one case where a woman shot and killed her boyfriend while trying to perform a stunt — all in the name of content. [Julia Alexander / The Verge]

Top stories from Recode

Snap’s new CFO is leaving after just 8 months. Tim Stone, who joined in May from Amazon, is leaving — and Snap doesn’t have a replacement. [Kurt Wagner]

Lime, a scooter startup that barely existed two years ago, is now going to be worth $2 billion. Lime is expected to take in $400 million in a round financed primarily by its existing investors. [Theodore Schleifer]

Twitter wants to make it easier to have conversations — and it’s asking for your help. Can a new set of product features change the way people communicate online? [Kurt Wagner]

This is cool

Nike disrupts shoelaces with its new iPhone-controlled smart sneakers.

This backpack is good enough to make you forgive its terrible name.

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