Netflix Basic with Ads review: launches November 3 for $6.99 a month
But Netflix's Basic with Ads plan will have 85% to 95% of the content of higher tiers
I’ll have a full Netflix Basic with Ads review when this week. For now, here’s an in-depth preview of what the plan includes and how much it costs.
Update: Netflix responded, telling me that the Basic with Ads plan will include 85% to 95% of the content on ad-free plans. Here’s what a spokesperson said:
The titles that are available on the ads plan are titles that represent on average ~85 to 95% of viewing depending on the country, and we're working on improving that number, so we don't have specific titles to share as they'll be changing.
Update 2: We may see additional interest in the Netflix Basic with Ads plan in 2023, which is when the Netflix password-sharing crackdown is supposed to take place (otherwise additional households will be charged $2.99/mo). Good news, a Netflix Profile Transfer tool is launching to make creating a new account with your history intact a bit easier in case you opt for the Basic with Ads (or another) plan.
➡️ The Shortcut Skinny: Netflix with ads
💰 Basic with Ads tier will cost $6.99 per month
📉 $1 cheaper than the original Netflix plan in 2010
⏲️ 4 to 5 minutes of ads per hour (15 to 30 seconds each)
🙅♂️ “A limited” number of movies/shows won’t be available (licensing issue)
⬇️ You won’t be able to download movies/shows (no ads = no play)
💡 Netflix’s goal: attract new/departed subscribers (not woo downgraders)
😶🌫️ 720p video/no downloads means many won’t downgrade (Netflix hopes)
📺 Basic (without ads) will also go from 480p to 720p
There’s going to be something new to watch on Netflix in three weeks, and you may not like it, but you’ll probably love the low price of $6.99 per month.
Ads – an unthinkable notion for the previously commercial-free streaming service – will arrive on Netflix in a new plan dubbed “Basic with Ads,” announced today in a press release. The $6.99/mo price is $1 cheaper than what Netflix charged when it first launched its standalone streaming Instant Queue service in 2010.
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Netflix Basic with Ads will be available in the US starting November 3 at 12pm ET / 9am PT and the company is pinning its roadmap on a subscriber boost from this change. Netflix lost $50 billion in value in a 24-hour period earlier this year and saw 1.3 million subscribers cancel in North America alone in a single quarter. Ouch.
There’s a catch – or three
If you opt for this new plan, you’ll see 4 to 5 minutes of ads per hour with each ad between 15 and 30 seconds. You’ll also be limited to 720p HD video – not even 1080p Full HD video (never mind 4K Ultra HD).
You also won’t have the ability to download shows – Netflix needs to serve you ads with a live internet connection. I’ll have a full Netflix Basic with Ads review on November 3 to test out how well it does or doesn’t work at launch.
One more thing: due to licensing issues, some movies and TV shows won’t be accessible on the Netflix Basic with Ads tier (Netflix hasn’t specified which shows, but I’ve reached out for additional comment). Netflix does say “we’re working on [the licensing restrictions]” so this may only be a temporary setback.
Netflix’s big gamble
Netflix Basic with Ads is hoping not everyone downgrades their existing plans of $9.99 for Basic (it calls “Good”), $15.49 for Standard (“Better”) and $19.99 for Premium (“Best”). Current video resolutions for these tiers are 480p*, 1080p and 4K+HDR, respectively.
*When Basic with Ads launches at 720p, Basic (without ads) will also be bumped up to 480p, since that lower resolution is a 90s-era TV relic. So that’s good news even if you’re sticking with Basic for $9.99 a month.
Instead of downgrading, Netflix wants to lure new or recently departed subscribers to Netflix Basic with Ads. It’s also a safety net for those looking to cancel their streaming subscription during tough economic times. So it needed to make the plan attractive for a boost in subscribers without losing money on existing monthly subscriptions.
Netflix may also drive in new revenue through a password-sharing crackdown, which I wrote about before. It has been beta testing a $2.99 per month charge for outside-the-household usage, excluding on-the-go devices like phones, tablets and laptops. So if you’re ex-girlfriend’s roommate’s best friend is binge-watching your Netflix on a TV, there’ll be a $3 fee for that.
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