Netflix, the hugely popular video streaming service, has just announced it will be introducing an ad-supported tier for $6.99 a month, for those looking to spend less on their on-demand video viewing habits. But the overarching question that really has to be asked is “what the f**k are you thinking?”
Ad-supported streaming services are nothing new. YouTube is a prime example, but because we regularly get the option to skip the adverts, coupled with the fact we come to expect the ads before watching whatever it is we want to watch, we accept it. YouTube does offer a paid Premium service which removes the ads entirely, and to be charged for this is perfectly fair.
But Netflix, which has always promised zero adverts, no matter which tier you subscribed to, whether it be Basic, Standard or Premium, has proven ridiculously popular with consumers. So, to now offer a new, slightly more affordable plan WITH ads and WITHOUT access to all Netflix content, just seems a little backwards, we think you can agree.
The Netflix Basic with Ads plan is set to launch in Australia on 4th November, along with 11 other countries including Canada, the UK and the US. Ads will be shown before AND during whatever it is you’re watching, with Netflix claiming there will be an “average of 4 to 5 minutes of ads per hour.”
Netflix has also said the Basic with Ads plan will only show content in 720p quality, which is lower than Full HD 1080p. For some, this won’t be cause for concern, but for true movie and TV buffs, the extra quality afforded by 1080p is worth it. Oh, and you won’t be able to download content to a mobile device for offline viewing either.
From November, Netflix will also be available in Australia from $6.99. Basic with Ads, Netflix’s new lower priced ad-supported plan. A plan for every fan! https://t.co/Qy1R8HyQpK— Netflix ANZ (@NetflixANZ) October 13, 2022
To be honest, we’re struggling to see where the value in the new Basic with Ads plan lies. Technology commentator and host of the Technology Uncorked podcast, Geoff Quattromani agrees.
On the new plan, he told DMARGE, “Imagine sitting in a boardroom at Netflix and saying ‘Let’s make a new tier, with ads, with LESS content, in a low High Definition quality AND make it the same price as Amazon Prime.'”
“FYI Prime Video includes free shipping, Amazon Music and eBooks.” And on top of that, it also includes Ultra HD 4K content at no extra cost. Netflix charges $22.99 for the privilege.
“This new tier saving you a whole cup of coffee per month will play ads before and during your one moment of rest at the end of the week, it won’t show you content that your friends are all talking about seeing in the ‘premium tiers’ and you’ll be left considering why you don’t just watch 7Plus, 10Play or 9Now content which has movies, TV shows etc, with ads but without the monthly fee,” Geoff adds.
“I think the uptake will be poor, except the few wanting to see how the ad integration works, I think those that genuinely sign up as part of better budgeting in the home need to reconsider a lot more areas of their life also.”
“If $4 saving per month makes a difference in your life then take a lap of a Woolies car park and you’ll collect it on the floor quickly.”Geoff Quattromani
But, we also proposed to Geoff that Netflix’s new tier could be a very clever marketing move, playing a psychological trick of sorts on consumers, to persuade them to stay on, or upgrade their current subscription.
To this, Geoff says, “I think the biggest thing they’ve done is reminded people of the other tiers available to customers. I was on the 4K $22 tier, cancelled because I saw the content I wanted, but then months later when I returned I only joined the Standard tier because there was no visible difference for everyday viewing. Saved money, no ads, same content library.”
Indeed, along with the new ad-supported tier, Netflix also quietly announced the $10.99 per month Basic plan will also have its content quality reduced from Full HD to 720p. This move is a little bit of a twisting of the knife, we feel, as it could be seen a move to encourage people to move up to the $16.99/month standard tier.
Netflix, to us at least, certainly has big cojones with this latest move. The service has previously announced it is contemplating charging users who share their account with people outside their household, and introduced price increases for standard and premium plans in 2021. When this happened, many users started migrating from the service to another that they felt offered better value.