After months of anticipation, streaming company Netflix has launched its “Basic with ads” subscription plan, offering a cheaper price in exchange for showing regular advertisements.
As announced earlier in the year, the ad-supported plan is one part of Netflix’s strategy to address a recent loss of subscribers. Millions of people subscribe to Netflix across the world, but competing services like Disney+, Prime Video, and Apple TV+ have challenged the top streaming platform.
What is the Netflix Basic with ads plan?
As the name suggests, Basic with ads is an entry-level subscription plan for Netflix that airs ads in between TV shows and movies. It’s the only Netflix plan that shows ads; all other tiers remain ad-free. It launched in Australia on 4 November.
Basic with ads is currently the cheapest Netflix plan in Australia at $6.99 a month. Other tiers include the ad-free Basic plan at $10.99, the $16.99 Standard, and Premium – the most expensive option – which costs $22.99.
During the launch period, 15 or 30-second ads will air at an average of four or five minutes of ads per hour. They will play before and during TV shows and movies. Brands airing Netflix ads include GM, L’Oreal, McDonald’s, LVMH, Subway, and Target, in addition to local ads from the likes of CommBank, Coles and Woolworths.
Because of the advertising element, Netflix requires you to provide a date of birth and gender when signing up for a Basic with ads plan. According to the company, it uses “this basic demographic data, as well as general location information based on your IP address, to help tailor the advertising and improve the product offering.” Advertisers also can also target users by genre watched, such as action or romance.
What are the downsides?
Ads shown on the cheapest Netflix plan are unskippable, which might interrupt the flow of what you’re watching. Additionally, the extra information required by Netflix may provide a security and privacy risk in light of the recent spate of data breaches.
Basic with ads limits you to streaming in 720p HD, so no Full HD or 4K HDR viewing. Many of the latest movies and shows benefit from sharper resolutions, so this limits your viewing options. Also, this plan only lets you stream on one device at a time. For families or households who want to watch separate shows at once on different screens, a Standard or Premium plan might be better.
Another downside to Basic with ads is that it is the only Netflix tier that doesn’t support offline downloads. This means you can’t download content ahead of a plane flight to watch without internet access, for example, or preserve mobile data while out and about.
Arguably the biggest downside is that you can’t access some content using Basic with ads. According to Netflix, this is due to licencing restrictions, although it’s something they’re looking into. Here in Australia, some of the shows inaccessible at the time of writing include Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Good Place.
Should you get the Netflix Basic with ads plan?
At $6.99 per month, it’s one of the cheapest streaming subscriptions available, albeit with some limitations. Whether you should subscribe to this tier or not depends on your preferences.
If you only need one simultaneous stream, don’t have a 4K display, and are happy to sit through some ads, the cheapest Netflix plan is a decent affordable option. Conversely, if you live in a multi-user household and crave higher-quality streaming, consider subscribing at a higher tier.