Netflix's ad-supported tier, which is expected to begin rolling out later this year, could cost less than half the price of the current 'Standard' subscription.
A new Bloomberg report suggests the company is eyeing up a monthly price of between $7 and $9 for the forthcoming tier, which compares to $9.99 for the 'Basic' subscription and $15.49 for the most popular, HD-inclusive 'Standard' service in the US.
In the UK and Australia, we might therefore be looking at a monthly fee of around £4.99 and AU$8.99 respectively, considering the cheapest ('Basic') tier costs £5.99 and AU$10.99 in those regions.
Announced in April and in partnership with Microsoft, the ad-supported tier is Netflix's attempt to stem the flow of leaving subscribers after it lost members recently for the first time in over a decade. By introducing commercials to the service for the first time, the firm hopes to attract those who are willing to accept them into their streaming experience in exchange for a lower monthly fee. Perhaps some of these new subscribers will even come as a result of Netflix's inevitable crackdown on password sharing.
Around four minutes of adverts per viewing hour – much less than on cable TV – are expected for the new cheap tier, according to Bloomberg sources ("people familiar with the company’s plans"), with their placement before and during programs but not after. Not every film and TV show is likely to be subjected to ads, though, with Netflix Originals and kids' content likely to be exempt in some cases.
The ad tier might not simply be the like-for-like 'Standard' tier experience with adverts thrown in, mind you. As reported previously, the new entry-level tier could have a more limited content library and might not support downloads for offline viewing, making for a stripped-down experience.
That said, Netflix will surely try to make this ad-supported option as attractive as possible for those who are looking to cut costs – not least as it might only undercut the 'Basic' subscription by a couple of dollars/pounds. Some benefits of 'Standard', such as HD viewing and/or being able to watch on two screens simultaneously, are bound to be included. Surely.