HomeBusinessNetflix's ad-supported tier is here and there are some major limitations

Netflix’s ad-supported tier is here and there are some major limitations

Save a few bucks, struggle with ads

Keeping up with streaming services is getting expensive and fast. Prices keep going up, and inevitably the one you don’t subscribe to will be where the next hot show debuts. In an effort to remain attractive to viewers, a growing number of these services have looked to ad-supported offerings, which allowed them to lower their prices and, in turn, get more subscribers on board. It’s a tactic used by Hulu and HBO Max, and soon Disney+ will join their ranks as well. Now Netflix is ​​the latest service to confirm plans to bring ads to its platform — so you can save some money, as long as you’re comfortable with the tradeoffs.


It’s long been rumored that Netflix is ​​researching ad-supported programming, but we’ve had tons of questions about how that might end up working. Today, the company is officially announcing its new “Basic with Ads” tier and is starting to fill in those blanks. Basic with Ads subscribers see an average of 4 to 5 minutes of ads per hour, typically 15 to 30 seconds long, playing before and during shows and movies. That’s significantly less than what you’d see when watching cable TV.

With Netflix’s frequent price hikes, the addition of a new, cheaper tier should allow budget-conscious viewers to keep their access to the platform, along with trending shows like Weird stuff and The Jeffrey Dahmer Story. Unfortunately, Netflix lowers the video quality for them, and the ad-supported plan only allows streaming up to 720p. On the plus side, the old Netflix Basic plan (which is much the same as this one but no ads) is being increased from 480p to 720p. Other restrictions on ad-supported viewers include not being able to download content and not be able to watch certain shows at all, though Netflix says it is working on extending access.

The ad-supported version of Netflix costs $7 per month. For context, Hulu just went up to $8 with ads this week, and HBO Max with ads is $10. Disney+ with ads will be available December 8, also for $8, just in time for the service to hit the ad-free price. In that light, Netflix’s new offering manages to undercut its competition — as long as you’re willing to deal with a lack of 1080p video, support for only two concurrent users, and a load of ads to watch. But with the ad-free basic plan of just $10 a month, we have to ask ourselves: is it really worth saving $3?

If you think so, Netflix’s new subscription will be available on November 3.

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