Netflix’s highly anticipated, low-cost ad-supported tier is now live in the UK, sooner than originally expected, at a very tempting price point.
The new Netflix tier, called “Basic With Ads” is similar to Netflix’s existing “Basic” tier, except for the adverts, of course – and a few additional limitations (see the complete comparison below).
Netflix’s Basic with Adverts tier costs £4.99/month in the UK, compared to the adverts-free Basic tier which costs £6.99/month since the price rise earlier this year.
The ad-supported tier features video quality up to 720p/HD, but there’s good news for subscribers of the Basic (without adverts) tier – as it’s moving up to 720p/HD video quality as well, instead of its previous SD-only quality.
Netflix, the huge American streaming service, has seen great success in recent years, with major hits like Squid Game, Stranger Things, Cobra Kai, and many others, with the pandemic and lockdowns contributing to the rising subscriber numbers.
But Netflix’s growth has stalled – both in the US and the UK, and subscriber numbers have been going down – which prompted the announcement of the new, cheaper, ad-supported tier.
With Netflix being one of the most expensive streaming services in the UK, and the current cost of living crisis, subscriber numbers were bound to go down even further – and it remains to be seen whether the new Basic with Adverts tier will make Netflix seem affordable again.
Another measure Netflix is about to take soon, is the upcoming “Extra Members” scheme, which will force you to pay an extra fee if you’re sharing your Netflix password and account with other members who don’t live with you.
Later this year, Disney+ is launching its own ad-supported tier in the US, at $7.99/month, with plans to bring it to the UK sometime in 2023.
Netflix’s Basic with Adverts Tier: Full Details
The new ad-supported tier from Netflix costs £4.99/month in the UK, and – as always with Netflix – is on a rolling 30-day contract, so you can cancel at any time.
The adverts tier is supported on most devices that currently have the Netflix app (Smart TVs, streaming devices, smartphones, etc.).
This isn’t necessarily true, however, for Netflix subscriptions through 3rd parties. So if you’re paying for Netflix via your Sky, Virgin Media or BT bill – it remains to be seen whether these pay-TV services will support Netflix’s new ads tier – and when.
Netflix With Ads Tier Limitations
At launch, the Basic with Adverts tier will have an average of 4 to 5 minutes of adverts per hour, and they will be 15 or 30 seconds in length, And the adverts will play before – and during – series and films.
According to Netflix, adverts may be personalized based on your interactions with Netflix (such as the genre of content being viewed), and the information that you provide to Netflix.
In addition, there are a few limitations that differentiate the Basic-with-Ads plan from the other Netflix tiers:
No Downloads: Unlike the regular Basic (and higher) tiers, you won’t be able to download content and watch it offline on portable devices (as Netflix can’t show you adverts if you’re offline).
Locked Content: While the content on all tiers will be ALMOST identical – due to “licensing restrictions”, a limited number of films and TV series won’t be available on the Basic with Adverts tier.
Titles that are blocked on the Ads tier will appear with a lock icon when you search or browse Netflix. You may see a lock shown on titles:
- In the Top 10 TV Shows or Top 10 Movies rows
- When you search for something to watch
- On the title page after you select a TV show or movie
- Saved to your profile’s My List
- In the Continue Watching row
No Ads Skipping: You cannot skip or fast-forward adverts, but you can pause playback during an ad.
Kids Profiles: Ads will not be shown on Kids profiles, regardless of the plan you’re on.
According to Netflix, advertisers will be able to prevent their adverts from appearing on content that might be “inconsistent with their brand” (primarily sex and graphic violence) – so you might end up seeing fewer adverts on very graphic horrour films, for example.
Netflix Plans Price Comparison
As with the regular Basic tier, the ad-supported plan will let you watch on 1 supported device at a time (compared to 2 on the Standard tier and 4 on the Premium/4K tier).
So, from November 3, Netflix offers 4 pricing plans in the UK:
- The Basic with Adverts Plan at £4.99/month – lets you stream content in HD (720p), on only one device at a time.
- The Basic Plan at £6.99/month – lets you stream content in HD (720p), on only one device at a time.
- The Standard Plan at £10.99/month – lets you stream content in Full HD (1080p), on up to 2 devices at a time.
- The Premium Plan at £15.99/month – lets you stream some content in UltraHD (4K), on up to 4 devices at a time.
Netflix Pricing VS. The Competition
Most other streaming services in the UK don’t have ad-supported tiers, except for NOW (TV), sort of – you get adverts with them, unless you add the ‘Boost’ add-on at £5/month.
At £10.99/month for the Standard Plan, Netflix’s prices were higher than most of its competitors in the UK – and even more so when you look at the 4K premium plan.
But with the Basic plan’s upgrade to 720p, and even more so with the new Basic with Adverts tier at £4.99/m – Netflix is certainly putting up a fight.
Amazon Prime Video costs £5.99/month (or £95/year if you get the full Amazon Prime membership), and includes 4K streaming, so it’s more comparable to Netflix’s £15.99/month premium plan. Amazon did increase the price of the full Amazon Prime subscription last month – but you can still get the video-only tier for the same £5.99/m.
Disney+ costs £7.99/month or £79.90/year in the UK, also with 4K included as part of the plan, so comparable to Netflix’s Premium Plan. An ad-supported tier is coming sometime in 2023.
Apple TV+ costs £6.99/month (following the recent price hike), and while it used to be free for a whole year, for those who purchased a new Apple device, the free trial is now for 3 months and not a full year.
NOW (formerly known as NOW TV), offers separate plans for films, TV shows, and sports. At £9.99/month for the TV package (that includes kids’ content) and £9.99/month for the Cinema membership, it’s by far the most expensive UK streaming service when you combine the two.
Plus, NOW doesn’t offer any 4K content, and even if you just want Full HD (1080p), you need to pay an additional £5/month for NOW Boost, which also removes the adverts.
So, at £4.99, Netflix now offers one of the cheapest streaming options out there – but, of course, you get to watch adverts.
Will that be enough to change Netflix’s subscriber numbers? We’ll keep watching.
[Note: This article was originally published on October 13, and then updated with additional information.]