Netflix is about to get a bit cheaper, though that new pricing comes with an asterisk and a few ads in between those binge-watching sessions, with the company revealing its first ad-supported subscription in full.
In previous months, Netflix had outright denied reports from several outlets that its streaming service would roll out plans featuring advertisements anytime soon, despite both The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg pointing to it debuting in November. It turns out those sources were at least partly accurate since Netflix’s new Basic with Ads will launch next month, although to be fair, the specifics of it are a bit different from what prior news had suggested.
As per the company’s official press release on the matter, Netflix’s Basic with Ads will be available starting November 3 at 9 am PT, at a price of $6.99 per month. However, it will only cater to 12 exclusive markets in this first stage, namely the United States, Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Spain and the UK. Now, how the ads will work differs a little from what was believed to be the company’s strategy, as commercial breaks will either be 15 or 30 seconds long, but will pop up both before and while users are watching content on the platform.
The new Basic with Ads plan will also enjoy new extra benefits previously unavailable to Basic subscribers, as from November on the video quality will be upgraded to 720p (HD) from the grainy 480p resolution it offered before. The tiny print does reveal some extra caveats, as the frequency of the ads would roughly translate to between 4 or 5 minutes of advertising per each hour of viewing time. Plus, Basic with Ads doesn’t include the ability to download content, and some unspecified titles would not be available due to “licensing restrictions” not addressed in the post that could apply to some of Netflix’s best anime movie offerings, for example.
It bears saying that the original piece of news had hinted at Netflix slashing the price of its most popular Standard plan, currently going for $15.49 a month, by almost half. So combined with the added restrictions, Basic with Ads hardly seems like the most exciting product. Currently, the Basic subscription costs $9.99 with no ads, and with the enhanced resolution announcement it would certainly appear to be the better deal for those on a tight budget, especially with Netflix having so many failed originals.
On top of that, with 1080p being the industry standard for watching movies and shows, 720p is still a significant downgrade, and even if prices scale down to adjust to different economies, Basic with Ads is still limited to more developed countries. Compared to Disney Plus’ plans to start its ad-supported bracket at $7.99, it’s hard to pin down just who exactly Netflix is targeting with this strategy.