Breaking: In a major shakeup of its pricing model, Netflix, the global streaming giant, has abandoned its low-cost ‘Basic’ tier in the UK and the US, echoing its earlier strategy in Canada.
This game-changing move, first spotlighted by us this morning, shows Netflix’s clear plan to change its subscription model globally, and put more emphasis on its ad-supported plan.
With the ‘Basic’ tier off the table for new subscribers, those who wish to watch Netflix without adverts will now have to pay at least £10.99/month ($15.49 in the US).
Audiences in the UK, US, and likely other regions soon, are now facing a new viewing norm – enduring occasional ad breaks during their Netflix marathons if they desire an affordable streaming experience (dive into the full pricing details ahead).
- Update: We’ve uncovered a workaround for signing up for the Netflix Basic tier.
The Birth Of Netflix’s Ad-Supported Tier
Initially launched in late 2022 as ‘Basic with Ads’, Netflix’s Ad-supported tier provided subscribers with access to the majority of Netflix’s expansive content library, but with a slight twist.
For a reduced price of £4.99/month ($6.99 in the US), subscribers had to bear with several minutes of ads per hour.
However, the ‘Basic with Ads’ tag didn’t stick around for long. In April 2023, Netflix announced a significant upgrade to this tier, enhancing the video quality from 720p to 1080p, and allowing for two simultaneous streams.
This major uplift essentially matched the offerings of the higher-priced ‘Standard’ tier, prompting Netflix to rebrand the plan from ‘Basic with Ads’ to ‘Standard with Ads’.
Despite the enhancements, the ‘Standard with Ads’ tier held on to its lower price point, establishing itself as a competitive alternative for budget-conscious streamers who were willing to trade a few minutes of their time for ads.
Now, with the cancellation of the original Basic tier, it’s evident that the ‘Standard with Ads’ tier has become a central piece in Netflix’s global strategy.
Netflix’s ‘Standard With Ads’ VS ‘Basic Tier’
Before the new shakeup, the two entry-level plans for Netflix users were the ‘Basic’ tier and the ‘Standard with Ads’ tier. These two options offered vastly different viewing experiences at differing price points.
The ‘Standard with Ads’ tier, priced at £4.99/month, allowed users to stream content in Full HD (1080p) on two devices simultaneously, but with periodic advertisements.
This plan also came with some limitations – it does not allow users to download content for offline viewing, and due to licensing restrictions, some content is not available.
Nevertheless, according to Netflix, the ‘Standard with Ads’ tier has around 95% content parity globally with the ad-free tier.
On the other hand, the ‘Basic’ tier, priced at £6.99/month until this week, permitted subscribers to stream content in HD (720p) on a single device without interruptions from adverts.
However, with no multiple-device streaming and the limitation to HD quality (720p), it was less flexible and lower quality compared to the ‘Standard with Ads’ tier.
The major distinction between these two plans was the presence (or absence) of adverts.
For those who valued an ad-free viewing experience, the ‘Basic’ tier was the obvious choice, albeit at a slightly higher cost.
Conversely, for viewers who prioritised price and higher quality over the occasional disturbance of ads, the ‘Standard with Ads’ tier offered better value.
How Netflix Quietly Pushed ‘Standard With Ads’ Over ‘Basic’ Plan
Prior to the removal of the ‘Basic’ tier, there were already signals that Netflix was subtly steering its audience towards the ad-supported ‘Standard with Ads’ option.
As we first reported earlier this year, Netflix already made some changes to its ‘Choose A Plan’ page for new customers, back in January.
While the £6.99/month ‘Basic’ tier remained available, it was no longer prominently displayed. Instead, it was subtly tucked away under a small text link, while the ‘Standard with Ads’ plan took centre stage as the default low-cost option for new subscribers.
This subtle adjustment seemed to aim at increasing visibility and uptake of the ‘Standard with Ads’ plan.
For an ad-supported tier to succeed, a substantial subscriber base is necessary – advertisers require a considerable audience to make their investments worthwhile.
Consequently, Netflix appeared to be setting the stage for a significant shift in its strategy, one that leaned towards increasing advertisement revenue.
This week’s discontinuation of the ‘Basic’ tier in the UK and the US seems to confirm this strategic reorientation.
The End of Netflix’s Basic Tier in the UK and the US
In a move that echoes last month’s shift in Canada, Netflix has now decided to discontinue the ‘Basic’ tier in both the UK and the US (and possibly additional countries), leaving the ‘Standard with Ads’ as the lowest-cost option for new subscribers in these markets.
The cancellation of the ‘Basic’ tier, which was once the gateway to ad-free, affordable Netflix viewing, is a significant milestone in the evolution of Netflix’s strategy.
It’s worth noting that existing Basic plan subscribers can keep their subscription for now, as Netflix’s Plans page in the UK and the US now states this:
“The Basic plan is no longer available for new or rejoining members. If you are currently on the Basic plan, you can remain on this plan until you change plans or cancel your account.”
For viewers in the UK and the US, this implies that the ‘Standard with Ads’ option has become the go-to for budget-conscious streamers.
If they wish to enjoy the Netflix content library at an affordable rate, they will now need to tolerate occasional adverts, a requirement that was absent with the ‘Basic’ plan.
Otherwise, they’ll have to jump to the Standard tier, and pay more than double.
Here’s how Netflix’s plans now look in the UK, for new subscribers:
- The Standard with Adverts Plan at £4.99/month – lets you stream content in Full HD (1080p), on 2 devices at a time, with adverts.
The Basic Plan at £6.99/month(Cancelled!) – lets you stream content in HD (720p), on only one device at a time, without adverts.
- The Standard Plan at £10.99/month – lets you stream content in Full HD (1080p), on up to 2 devices at a time, without adverts.
- The Premium Plan at £15.99/month – lets you stream some content in UltraHD (4K), on up to 4 devices at a time, without adverts.
This change could potentially alter the Netflix viewing experience for many, as the company continues to expand its strategy of an ad-supported, lower-cost streaming option.
We reached out to Netflix for comment and will update this article if the company chooses to respond.
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