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Netflix’s Ad-Supported Tier is Now Available: Here’s Everything You Need to Know

Matt Tamanini

The day that some people — including many inside Netflix — never thought would happen has finally arrived, because, on Thursday, Nov. 3, the world’s largest streamer officially launched its ad-supported subscription tier in the United States after years of asserting that such a thing would never happen.

As part of the release of the streamer’s first-quarter earnings report in April — which saw it post its first quarterly subscriber loss in over a decade — co-CEO Reed Hastings announced that the company would introduce the lower-cost subscription option.

Over the summer, Netflix announced that it would be partnering with Microsoft on its advertising infrastructure and delivery since the company had no institutional experience with selling and serving ads.

The streamer’s Basic with Ads plan officially launched in Canada in Mexico on Nov. 1 and also debuts in Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, and the United Kingdom on Thursday, with Spain getting the subscription option on Nov. 10.

Netflix has indicated that it will “evolve the Basic with ads plan over time,” but for now, let’s run through some of the biggest questions that customers might have about the new subscription plan.

How Much Does It Cost?

The newly introduced “Basic with Ads” plan costs $6.99 per month. That is $3 cheaper than the most inexpensive ad-free plan. The Basic plan costs $9.99 per month, while the Standard plan is $15.49 monthly and the Premium is $19.99 per month.

Beyond the introduction of ads into most content, there are a handful of other differences between the Basic with Ads plan and the ad-free options.

How Many Ads Will I See Per Movie or Episode?

The Basic with Ads subscription tier will launch with around four minutes of commercials per hour. However, the streamer does caution that “this may vary based on the title you’re watching.” Ads will run either 15 or 30 seconds in length and can appear either before or during the run of a title.

Unlike on ad-supported tiers of other streamers, currently, it does not appear that Netflix will display when the ad breaks will occur on a title’s progress bar.

However, if you are returning to a movie or TV episode after having already begun it, the streamer will allow you to scrub through the timeline and pick up where you left off without having to watch another ad.

Is All Content Available to Watch on the Ad-Supported Tier?

At launch, not all of Netflix’s movies and series will be available for customers on the Basic with Ads tier. While there had initially been speculation that the streaming giant would purposely hold back some of its most popular and/or original content exclusively for customers on its ad-free tiers, it appears that the reason that some titles are locked is due to the fact that Netflix has not yet been able to reach licensing agreements with all of its content providers.

Because the streamer’s original deals to license shows and movies did not factor in the inclusion of commercials, Netflix has had to go back to the individual studios and renegotiate in able be able to serve ads before and during the titles. However, the company has not yet been able to come to an agreement with some of its biggest partners, including Disney, NBCUniversal, Sony Pictures Television, Warner Bros. Discovery, or Lionsgate; however, according to the Wall Street Journal, Netflix is closest to a deal with WBD.

Fortunately, while you are searching for shows and movies to watch, Netflix has made it easy to identify which titles are currently unavailable to watch on the Basic with Ads plan. In the search menus, unavailable content will display a red lock in the top right corner of the title’s tile.

Then, if you click on one of the locked shows or movies, the individual menu will prompt you to upgrade your plan in order to stream the specific title.

How Many People Can Watch at the Same Time?

Just like the ad-free Basic plan, Netflix only allows viewing on one approved device on the Basic with Ads tier.

Can You Skip or Fast-Forward Through Ads?

Like on nearly all other ad-supported streaming tiers, viewers are unable to skip or fast-forward through ads. Reports have indicated that Netflix is charging incredibly high rates for advertising (although the streamer denies that), but in order to maximize its ad revenue, the company needs to do everything it can to ensure that the commercials have the desired impact, and that starts with doing everything possible to force viewers to sit through them.

However, consumers will be able to pause commercials if they need to get up from the couch for any reason.

Can You Download Content for Offline Viewing?

Unfortunately, downloading is disabled on the Basic with Ads plan. Not only is this done, presumably, to differentiate between the differently priced tiers, but also — and likely more importantly — if content is downloaded and viewed offline, then the streamer will not be able to serve ads as efficiently and effectively, making them less valuable to advertisers and more of a nuisance to consumers.

Are There Ads on Kids’ Profiles?

Like many other streamers with ad-supported tiers, including HBO Max and Disney+’s forthcoming subscription option, Netflix will not be serving ads of children’s profiles. Over the summer, reports indicated that the streamer would also decline to show ads on kids' content being viewed on an adult's profile as well, but as of launch, that does not appear to be the case.

Can You Still Watch Shows and Movies in Ultra HD?

On the ad-free Standard plan, Netflix customers can watch titles in Full HD and on the Premium Plan, they can watch in Ultra HD. However, even on the ad-free Basic level, movies and TV episodes are only available in HD, and that will be the same for the Basic with Ads tier as well.

Therefore, the video quality will be limited to just 720p on both the Basic and Basic with Ads tiers as opposed to the 1080p HD on Standard and Ultra HD on Premium.

Will There Be Ads on Netflix’s Mobile Games?

All of Netflix’s mobile games will continue to be ad-free, no matter which subscription plan the users are on. Ads will only be shown as part of movies or TV episodes.

How Does the Basic with Ads Tier Work While Traveling Internationally?

If you travel to a country where Basic with Ads plans are not available, then unfortunately you will not be able to use Netflix.

How Personalized Will My Ad Experience Be?

According to Netflix, ads will be personalized based on how you interact with the platform, including which genres of content you watch, where and when you use the app, etc. The streamer will also personalize ads based on information that individual users have voluntarily provided.

When a customer signs up for — more moves to — the Basic with Ads plan, they will be asked for their date of birth and gender. Netflix will then use that basic demographic data to help tailor the advertising.


Netflix is a subscription video streaming service that includes on-demand access to 3,000+ movies, 2,000+ TV Shows, and Netflix Originals like Stranger Things, Squid Game, The Crown, Tiger King, and Bridgerton. They are constantly adding new shows and movies. Some of their Academy Award-winning exclusives include Roma, Marriage Story, Mank, and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

Netflix offers four plans — on 1 device in SD with their “Basic with Ads” ($6.99) plan, on 1 device in SD with their “Basic” ($9.99) plan, on 2 devices in HD with their “Standard” ($15.49) plan, and 4 devices in up to 4K on their “Premium” ($19.99) plan.

Netflix spends more money on content than any other streaming service meaning that you get more value for the monthly fee.

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