With the current cost-of-living crisis, a new, lower-priced, ad-supported Netflix tier should be welcome news, even celebrated and welcomed with open arms by a cash-strapped population hopelessly hooked on streaming. But instead of singing Netflix’s praises, people seem, how to say, a little off.
To bring you up to date, today Netflix set an official date (November 3) for the release of its long-awaited ad-supported level. We got the prices – $6.99 per month in the US and £4.99 per month in the UK – and got the details on how many ads customers will have to watch per stream – up to 4-5 minutes per hour and the ads they can be posted before, during and after the shows.
There may be some shows that won’t appear in the level (although details are scant), you can’t download anything to watch later, and the resolution maxes out at 720p.
None of this is surprising, although I am disappointed with the resolution limit. I can understand beating 1080p. Not everyone has a 4K streaming box, but we everybody have 1080p televisions. I guess they expect Netflix ad level customers to stream primarily on mobile and tablet. They may be right, but this would have been easy for Netflix.
I’m also a little curious about the content that won’t appear in this level. Netflix says it’s due to licensing issues. Does that mean the deal Netflix has with some studios is that ads can’t appear on their content? If so, the list of shows and movies that don’t appear on this ad-supported tier could be larger than anyone expects.
At $3 less than the current base tier, it still seems like a good deal, even if you have to watch a few ads. But sentiment about the service is, at least anecdotally, negative. I heard some buzz on social media and in various reports, so I did a survey.
Will you switch to Netflix’s cheaper advertising service?October 14, 2022
As you can see, even with what could be a savings of nearly $40 a year, Netflix customers aren’t jumping at the chance to try the newest level of Netflix. Granted, what people say here and what they do in real life can be two very different things, but I wonder if some people feel this is a bit of a raw streaming deal?
While we all pay for cable, most of us don’t pay for individual channels. (I don’t consider HBO a channel, it’s a premium subscription service. A channel might be more like HGTV or the Hallmark Channel.) At the same time, we understand that to get a streaming service, you have to subscribe, and when you pay, you usually don’t have to watch ads.
Netflix isn’t alone in asking consumers to trade savings for ad consumption. Hulu does. Disney+ will do so soon and, in a more cowardly move, will raise prices for the ad-free service when it launches the ad-supported one. They may meet with a similar upset.
Breaking the unspoken contract that promised ad-free viewing for a price may be a level too far for many, especially as a relatively new generation of streaming services appears that ask for nothing more than your email address to provide you with ad-supported premium. . contents.
Two platforms come to mind, Amazon’s Tubi and Freevee (opens in a new tab). Both offer an interesting mix of studio movies, old TV shows, and even original content. Freevee, for example, has High School, which chronicles the formative years of Canadian indie pop duo Tegan and Sara. Tubi’s original content could be a bit cheaper, a mix of documentaries like Fresh Meat: Jeffrey Dahmer and the horror film Alone in the Dark. And for the legions of Roku consumers, there’s The Roku Channel, which has all the originals from Quibi, Martha Stewart, and HGTV knockoffs like Idea House: Mountain Modern.
Of all of them, Amazon’s Freevee may be the best considered. It seems to have the richest library, the best quality, and the fewest ads. Most notably, it doesn’t require an Amazon Prime membership (Amazon Prime Video does).
The point is that there are free streaming options that abide by the old unspoken agreement: we won’t charge you if you watch some ads.
What Netflix should be doing is offering a free tier. If they did, they could pretty much limit the content and run as many ads as they wanted. People would sign up because everyone loves free. And I bet a lot of those folks, when the economy picks up, would upgrade to the paid version so they could benefit from 4K, downloadable content, and glorious Stranger Things episodes uninterrupted by dog food commercials.
This is the natural order of things and if Netflix followed through, there would be a lot more people in my survey saying, “Sign me up!”
If you’re a long-time Netflix subscriber wondering what to watch next on your premium subscription, start with our list of the best shows on Netflix.