When Netflix cancelled its Basic ad-free tier earlier this year, Sky subscribers were lucky enough to get to keep it for a while longer. But starting December 12, 2023, this privilege will no longer extend to new Sky customers.
In a significant shift, Sky is updating its bundled Netflix offering to include the ‘Standard with Ads’ tier instead of the discontinued ‘Basic’ plan.
This change indicates both an upgrade and a downgrade – Netflix’s ‘Standard with Ads’ tier offers Full HD (1080p) video quality, as opposed to 720p on the Basic tier – but that comes with a price: advert breaks.
This change will mostly affect new Sky customers, and existing ones will not be switched over automatically – until they renew their contract or make certain changes like upgrading or downgrading their Netflix plan (see full details below).
Furthermore, upgrading to a higher Netflix tier (to remove the adverts, for example, or to get 4K) – will now cost more on Sky than it did up until this week.
According to Sky, these changes were brought on to reflect Netflix’s new tiers.
The changes were in the cards for some time – so let’s go over what they mean exactly and what’s happening on the other pay-TV companies, Virgin Media and BT TV / EE TV.
Sky Adopts Netflix’s New Subscription Model
Netflix has long been part of Sky’s main bundle on Sky Stream and Sky Glass – ‘Sky Ultimate‘ (the prices and terms are different on Sky Q, where subscribers will now be able to get Netflix’s ad-supported plan from £4/month).
The tier which was included in the default Sky Ultimate plan, until now, was Netflix Basic – and it was ad-free.
However, effective from December 12, new Sky customers will no longer receive the Netflix ‘Basic’ tier as part of their package.
Instead, they will be offered the ‘Standard with Ads’ Netflix plan. This marks a major shift in Sky’s approach to providing streaming content, aligning with Netflix’s recent plan changes.
The ‘Standard with Ads’ plan, priced at £4.99 per month (for direct, standalone subscribers), was an evolution from Netflix’s original ‘Basic with Ads’ tier.
For new Sky customers, this change implies a trade-off. While they gain access to higher-resolution content and the ability to stream on multiple devices, this comes with the caveat of having to watch adverts.
The move also reflects the broader trend in the streaming sector, where platforms are increasingly exploring ad-supported models as a viable alternative to traditional subscription methods.
Existing Sky customers with the Basic Netflix plan will remain unaffected until they decide to renew or alter their existing contracts.
So, for example, if you’re currently on the ‘Netflix Basic’ plan via Sky, but then decide to upgrade to ‘Netflix Premium”, you won’t be able to downgrade back to Basic (but will be able to downgrade to ‘Standard with Ads’ or ‘Standard’).
Want To Upgrade Netflix On Sky? It Will Cost More
In addition to changing the ‘Basic’ tier to ‘Standard with Ads’, Sky is also increasing the cost of upgrading your default Netflix tier.
Upgrading to the ‘Standard’ Netflix tier will now cost £6/month (on top of your Sky Ultimate cost), instead of £4/month.
Upgrading to the ‘Premium’ Netflix tier will now cost £11/month, instead of £8/month.
A Sky spokesperson told Cord Busters: “Our packages with Netflix enable customers to access both Sky and Netflix in one subscription, providing an easier way to watch content at better value.
“To reflect Netflix’s new tiers, Netflix Standard with Ads will now be the default package for Ultimate TV on Sky Q, Sky Glass and Sky Stream – this will not impact existing customers who already have our Ultimate TV packs combining Sky and Netflix.”
Netflix’s Basic Tier Slowly Going Away
This move from Sky follows a series of significant changes Netflix has made to its subscription plans this year.
Back in July, Netflix discontinued its ‘Basic’ tier for new customers, pivoting its focus towards the ad-supported ‘Standard with Ads’ plan.
This tier offers a higher resolution than the Basic tier (1080p VS 720p), and you can stream it on two devices simultaneously, but you have to suffer through advert breaks.
While no longer available to new customers, Netflix recently raised the price of its Basic tier – so existing customers who are still on it (directly – not via Sky), are now paying £7.99/month instead of £6.99/month.
This may have been one of the reasons Sky is now moving new customers to the Standard with Ads tier.
In total, Netflix currently has 4 pricing plans in the UK – and 3 of them are now available on Sky:
The Standard with Adverts Plan (Part of Sky Ultimate, £4.99/month standalone) – lets you stream content in Full HD (1080p), on 2 devices at a time, with adverts.
The Basic Plan (Discontinued for new Sky or Netflix customers, part of the Sky Ultimate bundle for existing Sky customers, £7.99/month standalone) – lets you stream content in HD (720p), on only one device at a time, without adverts.
The Standard Plan, £6/month as an upgrade for Sky Ultimate, £10.99/month standalone – lets you stream content in Full HD (1080p), on up to 2 devices at a time, without adverts.
The Premium Plan £11/month as an upgrade for Sky Ultimate, £17.99/month standalone – lets you stream some content in UltraHD (4K), on up to 4 devices at a time, without adverts.
What About Netflix on Virgin Media TV and BT TV / EE TV?
Virgin Media also lets its subscribers add Netflix as part of their TV bundle, but the Basic plan is no longer available to new customers – and that has been the case since July 2023.
Virgin Media informed us that new customers can choose the Standard (no-ads) Netflix plan included in certain bundles, or opt for an upgrade to Netflix Premium if desired.
On BT TV (which recently changed to EE TV), the Netflix Basic plan (without adverts) is still available for new customers (and existing ones) who sign up for one of the Entertainment bundles – but it’s likely to change to Standard with Ads at some point, as it did on Sky.