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Netflix scraps ‘basic tier’ as it introduces ad-supported plan for £4.99 a month

Emma Lunn
Written By:
Emma Lunn

The streaming service has scrapped its basic ad-free plan in favour of an ‘ad-supported’ subscription for £2 less each month.

Netflix has quietly scrapped its basic plan which allows users to watch films and TV shows on one screen at a time in 720p quality for £6.99 a month. It has now stopped selling this plan in the UK and US, after removing the option for Canadian customers last month.

If you are already subscribing to the basic plan your service will continue as normal, but new subscribers won’t be able to purchase the basic plan.

A message on the Netflix website read: “The basic plan is no longer available for new or rejoining members. If you are currently on the basic plan, you can remain on this plan until you change plans or cancel your account.”

New Netflix subscribers now have the option to sign up for a cheaper ad-supported plan. For £4.99 a month they can sign up to “standard with adverts” – but some films and TV shows won’t be available, and you cannot skip or fast forward ads.

An explanation of the plan on the Netflix advert said: “Unlike our other ad-free plans, ads will be shown before or during most TV shows and movies. While the vast majority of TV shows and movies are available on an ad-supported plan, a small number are not due to licensing restrictions. These titles will appear with a lock icon when you search or browse Netflix. Downloads are not included.”

Customers signing up to the £4.99 a month deal can watch Netflix in full HD on two devices at a time.

However, Netflix warns that: “A small percentage of devices that can play on ad-free Netflix plans can’t be used with an ad-supported Netflix plan. This is because either the Netflix app or software on the device can’t be updated to a version that supports ads.”

Standard or premium Netflix packages

Current Netflix subscribers can change their plan to the cheaper ad-supported plan by logging into their account and clicking “change plan”. Someone moving from the basic plan would save £2 a month or £24 a year.

New members who don’t want to watch adverts, can sign up to a standard Netflix plan for £10.99 a month or premium for £15.99.

The standard plan lets you watch Netflix in high definition on up to two devices at once, and download shows on up to two mobile phones or tablets. You can add one extra member who doesn’t live with you.

The premium package lets you watch Netflix in ultra-high definition on up to four devices at once, and download shows on up to six devices. You can add up to two extra members who don’t live with you.

‘Fresh blow to British streamers’

Jeff Richey, TV analyst at WatchTVAbroad.com, said: “Netflix has delivered a fresh blow to British streamers, with the axing of its £6.99-a-month basic tier leaving subscribers stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea.

“Customers on the tier that want to stay are likely to have to choose between putting up with adverts on its £4.99-a-month deal or moving to a considerably more expensive tariff. To avoid ads, they will now pay a minimum of £10.99 a month, meaning those on basic who upgrade face a bill rise of almost £50 a year.

“Clearly Netflix feels the initial anger that accompanied its adoption of adverts has subsided and subscribers will ultimately accept them.

“Amid fierce competition in the streaming market, securing a higher proportion of subscribers watching adverts guarantees an increasingly lucrative and secure revenue stream for Netflix.

“Yet for many viewers, being able to watch uninterrupted shows and films was a clear selling point of streaming services. While watching four minutes of ads per hour may not feel excessive or intrusive, Netflix veterans may see it as crossing a line.”

The move comes just months after Netflix ended free password piggybacking in the UK for viewers outside of the account holder’s household.