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Netflix’s ad-supported tier costs $7, rolls out next month

Streaming is one step closer to just becoming cable TV 2.0

Illustration for Netflix in pink and magenta colors Illustration: Ollie Hoff for Polygon
Ari Notis (he/him) is a guides editor at Polygon, where he writes, edits, and shepherds service-oriented articles about the biggest games du jour. He previously worked at Kotaku.

Netflix is pivoting to ads a bit sooner than expected. Initially planned to roll out during the “early part of 2023,” Netflix’s long-anticipated (or, to some, long-feared) ad-supported tier will become available in November, the streamer announced Thursday. It’ll cost $7 a month.

Formally called Basic with Ads, the plan will be available in a dozen countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Ads will run between 15 to 30 seconds at a frequency of four to five minutes per hour. (Put another way: Sitting through an episode of Sandman means sitting through up to 20 commercials.)

The plan comes with some limitations, too. Video quality tops out at 720p — a far cry lower than the 4K resolution available with the $20 plan. Plus, some programming won’t be available. In a press conference, Netflix chief operating officer Greg Peters noted that libraries vary from region to region, but estimated anywhere from five to 10 percent of the Netflix library will be unavailable to people who sign up for the Basic with Ads plan.

Netflix’s adoption of an ad-based model follows in the footsteps of the competition. Hulu has always had advertisements (currently in the $8 a month tier), and in 2021, WarnerMedia announced an ad-supported tier for HBO Max ($10 a month). Like both streamers, Netflix will air commercials before and, notably, during TV shows and movies. Fingers crossed that Basic with Ads won’t also do the HBO Max strategy of playing advertisements at the worst possible moments of high-tension scenes.

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