OPINION: Netflix stocks went up after it revealed the Basic With Ads tier had now amassed 15 million subscribers. It’s only doing well because streaming services priced people out of the best experience and the original promise of the streaming era.
Netflix with ads is defying expectations and now has 15 million paying customers. While that’s good for Netflix – it added 8.8 million subscribers overall during three months ending September 30 – it’s a bit of an indictment at the same time. A self-own if you will.
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People aren’t opting for/returning to Netflix for Basic With Ads because they like or prefer advertisements. It’s because, given the ongoing exponential rise in the costs of Netflix and other streaming services, it’s become all that’s affordable for many users.
A Netflix subscription used to be as much of a staple as bread and butter in many households. That’s because it was great value for money, really affordable and you could just slap something on without worrying about sitting through ads like on telly. Then they started taking the butter away.
The quality of the library went down and the price went up, with the best features costing even more. Eventually, something had to give. After the pandemic, it did. Netflix were taking the p*ss. So people started taking off. The stock price dropped like a stone.
But then Netflix, as it is wont to do (lately), compromised a tenet and introduced an ad-funded tier for those who didn’t want to pay top dollar for all the streaming services out there.
Of course people are going to come back. But the experience has been compromised. You don’t get all the library, you’re putting up with commercial breaks and you can only watch on two screens. And don’t you even think about sharing your password with anyone, something Netflix actively embraced at one point.
Everyone’s at it
It’s not just Netflix though. Disney+ did it today. If you want to avoid a £3 a month price hike you drop access to 4K, HDR and Dolby Atmos. Or you can get an ad-supported tier too. That’s £4.99. Seriously, lads. Stop conning everyone by charging more for 4K. It has been around a decade and should be standard rather than premium by this point.
Apple TV+ just went up £2 a month to £8.99 along, while the price hike affects many of Apple’s other subscription services. Amazon Prime Video will start feeding you ads unless you play an extra $3 a month on top of your subscription.
So, essentially, streaming is becoming just like regular TV. Unless you pay an increasingly large premium, there’s not much value to be had anymore. They’ve taken away everything that made it more attractive, unless you’re forking over as much (combined) as a Sky or Virgin subscription Pay TV subscription ever cost.
You pay to avoid ads, you pay for offline downloads, you pay more to get the best possible picture and sound on your expensive television and soundbar, and now you pay more to share you password with a friend every now and again.
And for what? An overwhelming library of middling programming and big budget movies? To bleed dry every Marvel and Lucasfilm property imaginable. So go ahead, Netflix! Brag about how well that ‘Basic’ tier is doing. Because, to be honest, basic is becoming an apt way to describe this service.