Netflix has done the unthinkable and rolled out an ad-supported tier of the pioneering streaming video service. It’s certainly not the first streaming service to do so. HBO Max, Peacock, Paramount Plus, and Hulu all have ad-supported tiers. Even Disney+ is rolling out its own ad-supported service in the near future. Netflix’s decision is definitely ruffling some feathers, but before you make a snap judgment, make sure you have all the facts. Let’s take a closer look at Netflix Basic with Ads.
How Much Does It Cost?
Upon launch of Netflix Basic with Ads, the price per month in the United States is $6.99. This is about $3 cheaper than the Basic plan, which is $10/month. The Standard Plan, which allows you to watch on two devices simultaneously and bumps the video quality up to 1080p, runs $15.50/month. The Premium plan allows four devices simultaneously and 4K HDR at $20/month.
Given these figures, the Basic with Ads tier costs $83.88 per year. Basic will run you $120 per year, Standard will cost $186/year, and Premium comes in at $240/year.
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Netflix Basic with Ads rolled out in early November 2022. At the time of this writing, it is only available in twelve countries: the United States, United Kingdom, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan, and South Korea.
These regions were probably chosen due to the number of subscriptions and potential advertisers. It’s safe to assume that if Netflix Basic with Ads is successful, we will see it rolled out in other regions as well.
How Many Ads Will I See?
Netflix has said that viewers will be subjected to four to five minutes of ads per hour. However, they do admit that this may vary depending on the title being watched. They haven’t elaborated on this, yet they’ve stated that ads will be 15 and 30 seconds in length.
Furthermore, ads will be shown both before a title starts playing and at various intervals during playback. Again, the number of ads you see will depend on the length of the title you’re watching. Finally, Netflix Kids accounts will not be subjected to any ads at this time.
How Does This Compare to the Number of Ads Seen on Broadcast TV?
Netflix’s four to five minutes of ads per hour may sound like a drag, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s not bad at all – provided you’re willing to tolerate ads in the first place. Netflix’s ad duration is actually much shorter than the amount of ads seen during broadcast television in most parts of the world.
To give you an idea of how Netflix’s ads stack up to the amount of ads you’d see on normal broadcast television, let’s take a look at the United States. In the U.S., television shows that run for an hour are, on average, only 42 minutes in duration. Commercials take up the other 18 minutes to fill the 60-minute timeslot. Furthermore, a TV show that lasts 30 minutes usually runs for 22 minutes, with the remaining eight minutes being advertisements. Netflix has said that it will be monitoring ad frequency to ensure that people don’t see the same commercials over and over again.
If you’re considering signing up or switching to Netflix Basic with Ads, you may want to take this info into consideration, as not all of the titles in Netflix’s library will be available to stream with the ad-supported tier. Netflix says this is due to “licensing restrictions;” however, it hasn’t provided specifics. This is purely speculation, but restricted titles will probably be more recent, mainstream films, movies that are generating awards buzz, and consistently popular films.
Anything that isn’t a Netflix original production is merely licensed to Netflix by the original copyright holders. Therefore, if the copyright holder doesn’t want their movie or show to be viewed with commercials, they’re the ones with the final say. The only thing Netflix can do is make that title unavailable for subscribers on the ad-supported tier.
To add insult to injury, you’ll still see blocked titles pop up when browsing through Netflix Basic with Ads. They’ll just have a little lock icon to let you know that you’re unable to watch them. That could be Netflix’s way of nudging you toward a more expensive subscription.
Not looking to invest into a subscription just yet? You can still stream movies and TV shows for free with these services.
Titles Not Available on Netflix Basic with Ads
One of the biggest shocks to Netflix’s ad-supported tier is the number of titles you can’t watch. At the time of this writing, news outlets are reporting that there are roughly 250 titles that are unavailable to stream on the Netflix Basic with Ads tier. These are mostly movies, although there are some prestige TV titles that will be blocked as well. Netflix has stated that they are working to bring some of these titles to the ad-supported tier. It has not divulged which titles are likely to become accessible, nor has it detailed an estimated timeline.
Unfortunately, Netflix has not supplied an official list of unavailable titles. To be fair, we wouldn’t want to advertise this either. Below are just some of the titles currently on Netflix but blocked if you’re on the ad-supported tier. It’s also worth noting that as titles leave and get picked up by Netflix, the ones blocked on the ad-supported tier may fluctuate.
- Casino Royale (2006)
- The Hateful Eight
- The Hurt Locker
- Resident Evil
- Arrested Development
- Ash vs. Evil Dead
- The Good Place
- House of Cards
- New Girl
- Peaky Blinders
Netflix Basic with Ads is going to omit some titles available on other tiers and you will have to watch some commercials. While those are probably the most pressing issues for most people, there are a few other considerations.
The new ad-supported tier will only support streaming in 720p. To be fair, this isn’t a bad deal considering the Basic tier is also pegged at 720p. Furthermore, like the Basic plan, you will only be able to stream to one phone, tablet, PC, or TV at a time.
Aside from the ads, there is one pretty significant difference between the Basic and Basic with Ads plans. Downloading titles is not supported on the Basic with Ads plan. If you like to download titles for offline viewing, you’ll need to shell out for one of the more expensive tiers.
How to Switch Your Current Account to an Ad-Supported Account
If you want to switch to Netflix Basic with Ads, sign in to your account on a computer and find “Plan Details.” Underneath that, you should see the “Change Plan” option. Select “Continue/Update -> Confirm.”
Switching to a cheaper plan like Basic with Ads takes effect on your next billing date. You will still be able to access all of the features of the more expensive plan until that date. If you switch to a more expensive plan, the changes will take effect immediately, and your billing date will change to the day you made the change. Finally, if you don’t currently have a Netflix subscription, sign up and choose the Basic with Ads option.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Can I skip or fast-forward through the ads?
Just as on YouTube, which only lets you get rid of ads if you upgrade to YouTube Premium, this is not an option. Being able to fast-forward or skip ads would defeat the purpose. It is estimated that the new Basic with Ads plan will result in more than $2 billion of additional revenue per year. If a user could skip or fast-forward through the commercials, what brand would want to advertise on the platform? However, you can pause ads if you really want to.
I don't see the option to sign up or upgrade to Netflix Basic with Ads. Why is that?
There are three scenarios that could prevent you from accessing Netflix Basic with Ads. First, you are in a country where the ad-supported tier is not yet available.
Secondly, you are using an incompatible device. Admittedly, this is not very likely considering only a very few devices aren’t compatible. However, Netflix has documentation to find out whether your device is supported.
Lastly, if you have Netflix through a package deal or a third party, you may not be able to change your plan. If this is the case, you will need to get in touch with the original provider.
Does this impact Netflix Games?
No. Ads will only be shown during TV shows and movies. While Netflix Games is still in its infancy, you can rest assured that Netflix Games will remain ad-free across all subscription plans.
Image credit: Unsplash
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