Netflix’s low-cost ad-supported tier, which launched in the UK just a few months ago, is getting a free boost soon – with upgraded video quality and up to two simultaneous streams.
The change, which was announced by Netflix in its shareholder letter this week, will push the ad-supported plan above the current “Basic” plan, which costs more, at least in terms of video quality – though some of the limitations remain on both tiers (see our full comparison below).
The upgrade has already been implemented in two countries – Canada and Spain – and will roll out to the UK (and other countries where the ad-supported tier exists) later this month.
With video quality going up to 1080p (from 720p), the new plan will no longer be called ‘Basic With Adverts’, and will instead turn into ‘Standard With Adverts‘, as it will become more similar to the Standard plan.
Netflix’s Ad-supported tier will keep its £4.99/month price in the UK, compared to the adverts-free Basic tier which costs £6.99/month since the price rise last year.
Netflix, the huge American streaming service, has seen great success in recent years, with major hits like Squid Game, Stranger Things, Wednesday, and many others, with the pandemic and lockdowns contributing to the rising subscriber numbers.
But Netflix’s growth began to stall last year – both in the US and the UK, and subscriber numbers started 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 ongoing cost of living crisis, subscriber numbers were bound to go down even further – and the jury is still out on whether Netflix’s advert-supported tier will help the company turn the tide.
For now, Netflix says it is “pleased” with the current performance of its Basic with Adverts tier, saying that in the US, the ad-supported plan is doing better than the standard plan.
As we previously reported, Netflix is pushing its ad-supported tier hard – and, in the UK, actually made it harder to find the ad-free Basic plan.
Netflix’s upcoming Password Sharing Fee, which has been delayed but will be coming soon to the UK, is also bound to affect subscriber numbers.
Netflix’s Upgraded Basic with Adverts Tier: Full Details
Netflix’s ad-supported tier, which is currently called ‘Basic with Adverts’, 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.
Later this month – when the plan is upgraded – its name will change to “Standard With Adverts” – but the cost will stay the same.
The adverts tier is supported on most (but not all) 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 – you can’t sign up for the ad-supported tier, at least for now.
Netflix With Ads Tier Limitations
The ad-supported tier has an average of 4 to 5 minutes of adverts per hour. The adverts 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 – including your date of birth, which you have to supply when you sign up for the ad-supported tier.
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.
However, Netflix says that the ad-supported plan now “has on average ~95% content parity globally with the ad-free tier”.
Titles that are blocked on the Ads tier 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.
Netflix Plans Price Comparison
Since its launch, the Basic-with-Adverts tier was identical to the ad-free Basic tier, in letting you watch on 1 supported device at a time (compared to 2 on the Standard tier and 4 on the Premium/4K tier).
Furthermore, the two shared the same video resolution – 720p (the Basic plan was upgraded from SD quality to 720p last November).
Later this month, when Basic With Ads turns into Standard With Ads – its video resolution will get bumped up to 1080p, and you will be able to stream on 2 supported devices at the same time.
Therefore, after the change, Netflix will offer these 4 pricing plans in the UK:
- 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 – 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.
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 £6/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 ad-supported plan now being identical to the Standard plan in some ways – at less than half the price – Netflix is certainly putting up a fight.
Amazon’s 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 late last year – 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 last year’s 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 (though there are almost always promotions with free months for Apple TV+).
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 (though the prices often go down with special offers).
Plus, NOW doesn’t offer any 4K content, and even if you just want Full HD (1080p), you need to pay an additional £6/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.
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