Netflix is about to become like ordinary TV… but one that you pay monthly for, as the streaming giant looks to make money both from customers and advertisers at the same time.
You don’t pay for free-to-air traditionally because it tends to have ads, so would you pay for TV if you still had to sit through a few minutes of advertising every hour?
That’s an idea Netflix looks set to test, with November 4 the launch date for a new tier of its service in Australia. Joining the regular monthly payments of $10.99 for Netflix Basic, $16.99 Netflix Standard, and $22.99 for Netflix Premium is a Basic with ads, which will see Netflix provide ads in between what you watch at a rate of roughly four to five minutes per hour.
It’s a bit of a test that could make Netflix more like standard TV, kinda sorta, as customers are offered a choice between a monthly fee for ad-free on-demand viewing, and a slightly lower monthly fee for ad-supported monthly viewing.
There are some differences between the basic services, because while it will share the 720p HD maximum of Netflix’s $10.99 Basic plan, some movies and TV shows won’t be available due to licensing restrictions, and you won’t be able to download titles, either. Netflix hasn’t said which TV shows and movies won’t be made available, but the answer is some won’t be there, though we suspect none will be Netflix originals. We suspect you’ll miss out on Netflix’s free games for phones, too.
It’s also worth noting that kids profiles will skip the ads on the Netflix Basic with Ads plan, with Netflix noting that “ads will not be shown on Kids profiles”. That could be a way to save on Netflix for kids, provided the adults are happy with ads in their viewing.
However, Netflix’s addition of an ad-supported tier brings the question of will customers accept it?
In Australia, most free-to-air networks run ads in their on-demand platforms, but you don’t have to pay anything to watch the on-demand content. It’s an ad-supported model without the burden of payment, something Netflix is adding with this plan. Meanwhile in music services, Spotify offers an ad-supported plan for free, again choosing not to charge because the ads provide some element of payment for its customers.
As such, this will be an interesting one to watch, and we suspect other streaming players will be watching it carefully, as well. The $6.99 price gives Netflix a less expensive option in a growing price war between other streaming services, with Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, and Paramount+ all priced close, but running without ads (except for the occasional ad for its own TV shows). If successful, it could lead to more lower priced streaming options for people not fussed with watching the odd ad at times, and tuning out while checking their phone.