Final Blow: Netflix UK Axes Ad-free ‘Basic’ Tier For All

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In a move that further tightens the noose around the neck of its ‘Basic’ ad-free tier, Netflix is set to deliver the final blow to this once-popular subscription option in the UK (and Canada).

Last year, Netflix made headlines when it axed the ‘Basic’ tier for new subscribers, pushing them towards either the ad-supported plans or higher-priced tiers.

But in a few months, not even the existing subscribers, who have been clinging to their ad-free streaming at an affordable price, will be spared – with Netflix announcing plans to discontinue the Basic tier – completely, this time around.

This change will have wide implications for both “direct” Netflix subscribers – and those who subscribe via bundles from pay-TV companies such as Sky and EE TV.

Sky and Netflix password collage

The Phasing Out of Netflix’s ‘Basic’ Tier

The initial steps towards discontinuing the ‘Basic’, ad-free tier were taken in July 2023, as we previously reported.

When Netflix started offering a low-cost (£4.99/month) ad-supported tier, customers were first being gently “pushed” into that tier, with Netflix aiming to increase the number of customers who see adverts.

Then, Netflix decided to axe the ‘Basic’ ad-free tier for new subscribers in the UK and the US, marking the beginning of a pivot in Netflix’s subscription strategy.

This move indicated a move away from lower-cost, ad-free options.

Netflix on TV socks
Photo: Deposit Photos

Despite this, existing ‘Basic’ subscribers were allowed to continue with their plans, and the price of that tier even went up (for those existing subscribers) in October 2023.

Therefore, at the moment, Netflix has 4 plans in the UK:

The Standard with Adverts Plan (£4.99/month):

  • Streaming in Full HD (1080p)
  • Simultaneous streaming on two devices
  • Limited downloads (for offline viewing) are available
  • Includes adverts

The Basic Plan (£7.99/month, for legacy subscribers):

  • This plan, set to be discontinued in Q2, offers HD (720p) streaming on a single device, without adverts.

The Standard Plan (£10.99/month):

  • Full HD (1080p) streaming
  • No adverts
  • Streaming on up to two devices at a time

The Premium Plan (£17.99/month):

  • Some content available in UltraHD (4K)
  • No adverts
  • Streaming on up to four devices simultaneously
Netflix UK Plans October 2023
Netflix’s UK Plans

The Final Blow To Netflix’s Basic Tier

In its earnings call this week, Netflix announced the decision to discontinue its ‘Basic’ subscription tier in the UK and Canada in the second quarter of this year, with other countries possibly following.

According to Netflix, the company is experiencing significant growth in its ad-supported memberships, which have increased by nearly 70% from one quarter to the next.

Furthermore, the ads plan now accounts for 40% of all Netflix sign-ups in the countries where it’s available.

Therefore, unsurprisingly, the company is doubling down on the ad-supported plans:

“We’re looking to retire our Basic plan in some of our ads countries, starting with Canada and the UK in Q2 and taking it from there.”

This means that in a few months, existing subscribers who are still on the Basic tier, will have to choose whether to start watching adverts (by downgrading to the £4.99/month Standard with Ads plan) – or jump up and pay £10.99/month for the Standard plan.

The Impact On Pay-TV Bundles In The UK

Pay-TV companies in the UK, which used to bundle the ‘Basic’ Netflix tier in their offerings, also felt the ripple effects of these changes. 

Sky Glass Netflix collage

In December 2023, Sky discontinued the inclusion of the ‘Basic’ Netflix plan for new customers, shifting towards the ‘Standard with Ads’ tier. However, existing subscribers were able to keep the ‘Basic’ tier – at least until they renewed their contracts.

Virgin Media also ditched the ‘Basic’ tier for new subscribers back in July.

Therefore EE TV (formerly known as BT TV) is currently the only pay-TV company that still offers Netflix’s Basic tier – but that is likely to change in the near future as well.

BT TV and Broadband bundles collage
BT TV’s Netflix Bundle

We reached out to Netflix for more details on the upcoming changes – and will update this article accordingly.

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