Netflix has finally launched its ad-supported streaming tier in the UK and beyond, enabling viewers to save money on their monthly bill, if they can tolerate commercial interruption and other limitations.
The tier costs £4.99 a month in the UK, which is just £2 cheaper than the current Basic plan with no ads. However, the cheaper plan also limits the resolution to 720p HD, rather than 1080p, and doesn’t offer access to offline downloads.
The advertisements are 15-30 seconds in length and users will have to contend with four to five minutes of them per hour. That’s still less than what you can expect from a terrestrial television channels like ITV.
Viewers who sign up for the basic plan will not receive the full library, at least in the short-term, as Netflix works out the licensing issues. Users will see a lock icon on a TV show or movie when it isn’t available to them.
We haven’t delved fully into the launch library yet, but reports from the Wall Street Journal earlier this week, suggested five major studios are yet to sign on for the ad-funded tier: They include Walt Disney, NBCUniversal, Sony Pictures Television, Warner Bros, and Lions Gate Entertainment.
“Netflix continues to haggle with several major studios for the right to run ads against their content in the new service or put their content on the ad tier,” the report said.
The decision to launch an ad-funded tier comes as somewhat of a surprise, given the Netflix’s previously held stance. The company broke the television wheel, so to speak, by dropping all episodes at once and offering all content ad-free at the start of the streaming wars. For years it rejected suggestions it may introduce commercials, but here we are.
Increased competition for the streaming dollar, a perceived drop off in the quality, and a certain amount of Netflix fatigue has resulted in subscribers ditching the platform in the last year, so the ad-funded option is seen as a way to bring back subscribers and open a new revenue stream.