Netflix’s cheaper, ad-supported plan arrives – and it’s as bad as expected

Netlix corporate headquarters building with red logo on outside
(Image credit: Shutterstock / Elliott Cowand Jr)

 Following Netflix Co-CEO Ted Sarandos’ June confirmation that an ad-supported tier would be coming to the service, the company today released details on its new Basic with Ads subscription plan.

Netflix Basic with Ads will cost $6.99 / £4.99 / AU$6.99 month when it launches November 3 in the US, UK and Australia. The tier will also be available in Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, and Spain, with both Canada and Spain getting a head-start via a November 1 launch.

According to a Netflix corporate blog post announcing the ad-supported tier, the new offering won’t have any impact on the pricing of its current plans, which range from $9.99 to $19.99 a month in the US, £10.99 to £15.99 in the UK and AU$10.99 to AU$22.99 in Australia.

The post noted that ads will be either 15 or 30 seconds in length, and will pop up both before and during streamed programs. Overall, viewers can expect to see 4 to 5 minutes of ads per hour. Similar to the service’s current Basic plan, video quality will be limited to 720p HD rather than the 4K with HDR available on the Premium tier.

Update: Netflix is improving the picture quality and number of simultaneous streams in the Basic with Ads plan.

Not all current programs will be available on the ad-supported tier “due to licensing restrictions,” according to Netlix. As to the number of blocked shows, the company estimates that “about 5% to 10% of overall programming won't be available depending on the country.”

Netflix’s post also confirmed our fears that users of its Basic with Ads tier won’t be able to download shows, a capability provided to its Basic, Standard, and Premium subscribers.

Analysis: Netflix with ads was inevitable

We can’t say we didn’t see this coming. Over the past year or two Netflix has been scrambling to keep up with new streaming competition from Disney, HBO, and other entertainment giants. The company’s subscriber base plummeted in the first half of 2022, causing it to lay off staff and to cancel productions that were in the works, particularly in the animation category.

Netlix’s new ad-supported plan arrives just one month prior to the launch of the Disney+ ad-supported tier, which, at $7.99 in the US, will represent a pricier option for those looking to contain household streaming costs amid ongoing inflation and economic strain.

For some viewers, the omission of shows from the ad-supported tier could be a deal breaker since many subscribe based on buzz about a specific show. Yes, maybe not everyone wants to watch The Jeffrey Dahmer Tapes, but not being able to stream Stranger Things or Seinfeld after forking over a monthly fee? No thanks!

Not being able to download shows will also be a problem since many take advantage of this feature to watch shows during a commute or other travel in environments where Wi-Fi or cellular services can be spotty. Forking out more cash for one of Netflix’s higher-priced ad-free tiers solves that issue, of course, but then you’re back to paying a premium.

With the addition of the new plan, Netflix is now just like every other streaming service that’s willing to plaster its shows with ads. The move may bring in new subscribers to the company, but it sure won’t help to differentiate it.

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

Al Griffin
Senior Editor Home Entertainment, US

Al Griffin has been writing about and reviewing A/V tech since the days LaserDiscs roamed the earth, and was previously the editor of Sound & Vision magazine. 

When not reviewing the latest and greatest gear or watching movies at home, he can usually be found out and about on a bike.