Netflix’s ad-supported tier will make it harder to watch shows away from home

Silhouette of a hand holding a padlock in front of the Netflix logo
(Image credit: Shutterstock / rafapress)

Netflix’s ad-supported tier plan just got worse, based on reports saying that subscribers at this level will be blocked from downloading shows or films for offline viewing.

Following the news earlier this year that Netflix had failed to meet its lofty subscriber targets, the streaming platform announced that it would launch a cheaper version of its current subscriptions that will show users adverts

However, since the announcement new details about the upcoming tier have come out suggesting that it’ll be an inferior option in more ways than one. Most recently, code discovered by developer Steve Moser within the Netflix app reveals a few messages that users will see when the Netflix with ads tier drops, with one line of text reading “Downloads available on all plans except Netflix with ads.”

While we can’t be certain Netflix won’t let allow downloads with its ad-supported tier until it makes an official announcement we expect that this will be yet another way the cheaper option will be worse than the ad-free tiers.

Losing downloads is especially disappointing, as it's one of Netflix’s most useful features. Whether you’re downloading an episode to watch during your commute to work or a whole series to enjoy on holiday, being able to watch it offline means your entertainment won’t stop just because you’ve got no WiFi connection or your phone’s signal drops out.

Netflix with ads is getting worse and worse 

This is yet another blow to the ad-supported tier after it was revealed in July by Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos that it won’t include every movie and TV show currently available on the standard version of Netflix.

Sarandos said. "There are some things that [wouldn't be included] – that we are in conversation with the studios on – but if we launched the product today, the members in the ad tier would [still] have a great experience.” 

He followed up with, “We will clear some additional content, but certainly not all of it.” Because of Sarandos’ addendum, it’s unclear if the content will always be restricted or if it’ll be a short-term hiccup but either way, it’s a shame that the ad-supported tier won’t offer all of the same great shows that the ad-free versions do. 

We'll know more about what Netflix's ad-supported tier will look like when it finally drops in 2023 – including exactly how much it'll cost –  but until then we'll have to wait and see. But if the leaks continue as they have been, Netflix's ad-supported tier might be a worse deal than we originally hoped.

Already have a Netflix subscription? Here are our picks for the best Netflix shows you can watch today

Hamish Hector
Senior Staff Writer, News

Hamish is a Senior Staff Writer for TechRadar and you’ll see his name appearing on articles across nearly every topic on the site from smart home deals to speaker reviews to graphics card news and everything in between. He uses his broad range of knowledge to help explain the latest gadgets and if they’re a must-buy or a fad fueled by hype. Though his specialty is writing about everything going on in the world of virtual reality and augmented reality.