Netflix’s long-awaited ad-supported subscription tier is finally announced. It will be available this November in 12 countries. The plan aims to fill the gap left by the increase in price over the last few years by providing a cheaper plan for those that can’t afford the regular ad-free tier.
However, now that the tier is available for good, there are a number of other limitations besides the ads.
Let’s start with the tiers: the price is $6.99 a month for the new Basic ad-supported tier. In comparison, the Basic ad-free tier is $9.99 (1 device) and the Standard is $15.49 (2 devices). Premium is the most expensive tier at $19.99, supporting up to 4 simultaneous devices. (Source: Netflix)
But there are other limitations to Basic with ads. You cannot download movies and shows to watch offline, the max resolution is HD (720p), and notably, not all movies and shows will be available. Netflix has clarified that the number of unavailable products is up to 10% of their catalog.
The ads themselves are said to be between 15 to 30 seconds and will play before and during shows and films. The estimated time of ads per hour is 5 minutes (which means between 10 to 15 ads every hour). They are not skippable.
They also clarified that ads are targeted to show content the viewer might be interested in, but also to prevent children from watching inappropriate ads for their age.
In short, the ad-supported version is worse in every possible way than the Basic ad-free version, except that it’s $3 cheaper – which is unsurprising.
The only feature that remains from the Basic ad-free plan is that mobile games on Netflix are also unlimited, but that’s hardly a selling point considering that most people don’t even know Netflix has mobile games in the first place.
Of course, for Netflix, there are a ton of benefits on the horizon. Not only will this increase time spent on the platform across the board, but it opens them up for advertising their own shows, as well as other products inside the service. It might not seem like much, but a lot of lapsed viewers might settle for the ad-supported tier if they simply want to catch up on a new show that dropped by paying less, which means they’ll be engaging with the ads right away, even if they’re subscribed for a single month.
The average of 10 to 15 ads per hour sounds pretty discouraging though. You’ll be constantly interrupted while watching your shows or movies, which seems like it can sour the experience of enjoying your favorite show very fast. YouTube, as an example, also has a lot of ads per hour, but some are only 5 seconds and some longer ones are skippable after 5 seconds have passed – and of course, YouTube is free with the option to pay and watch without ads.
Granted, videos made by solo content creators are different than a show like Stranger Things which costs millions of dollars to make, but the lower cost of the ad-supported subscription is hardly a great sell when every aspect of the service is worse as well.
The new plan called “Basic with ads” will be available starting November 2022.