Could Netflix follow Disney Plus and introduce a cheaper, ad-supported subscription tier? The world's biggest streaming service has always said adverts are not on the cards, and while that hasn't changed, one exec has hinted that it might, one day, happen.
To be clear, Netflix CFO Spencer Neumann said that ads were "not something that's in our plans right now". But he also said that Netflix wasn't against ads per se, and that they could become part of its plans at some point.
When asked about the possibility of introducing ads, Netflix usually gives a hard no. So Neumann's comments are a marked change from this stance.
Neumann was speaking at Morgan Stanley’s 2022 Technology, Media & Telecom Conference (via Variety (opens in new tab)).
"It's not like we have religion against advertising, to be clear," he said. "But that's not something that's in our plans right now… We have a really nice scalable subscription model, and again, never say never, but it's not in our plan."
Because they're subsidised by advertising revenue, ad-supported tiers allow streaming companies to offer their services for much cheaper, or even free, in the case of Spotify. The option is in the news after Disney Plus confirmed its own ad-supported tier will launch in the US later this year and internationally in 2023.
In the US, both HBO Max and Peacock have ad-supported tiers that save customers $5 on their monthly fee (though on the former content is limited to HD instead of 4K). Meanwhile, the ad-supported version of Hulu, owned by Disney, is $6 cheaper than the top tier.
Neumann confirmed that the option had renewed interest given recent developments in the streaming landscape.
"It's hard for us to kind of ignore that others are doing it, but it now doesn’t make sense for us," he said. Though of the ad-supported Disney Plus tier, he added with a chuckle, "I don’t think I'll get it."
We're not surprised: on a Netflix salary, we're sure he can afford the full-fat version.