Netflix Kills Its Cheapest Ad-Free Plan

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Netflix has officially killed off its $9.99 Basic plan in the US and UK, leaving the $15.49 Standard plan as the only option for new subscribers who want to enjoy ad-free viewing.

The move shouldn’t come as a huge surprise since Netflix did the same thing in Canada last month. The Great White North has become a proving ground for Netflix, and the company’s initiatives in Canada are often a harbinger of what the streaming giant plans to do elsewhere.

For example, Canada was where Netflix began its password-sharing crackdown earlier this year alongside New Zealand, Portugal, and Spain. It was also one of the first countries to get the upgraded “Standard with ads” plan before it rolled out in the US a few weeks later.

So, when the Basic plan was killed off in Canada, we knew that was likely the death knell for Netflix’s most affordable tier in the rest of the world.

The elimination of the Basic plan isn’t even all that unusual in hindsight. Once Netflix upgraded its $6.99 ad-supported plan to provide all the benefits of the $15.49/month Standard tier, that put Basic in a really awkward spot. Before the change to the ad-supported plan, you could pay $3 more per month for an unquestionable upgrade that removed ads and unlocked a bit of additional content (since the full catalog isn’t yet available with ads).

Once “Basic with ads” became “Standard with ads,” that $3 “upgrade” was actually a trade-off that forced folks to sacrifice 1080p HD viewing on up to two screens. Sure, you were getting rid of the ads, but in every other way, you were paying more money to get fewer features. One would have to really despise watching ads to pay $3/month more for lower quality and fewer screens.

So far, Netflix only appears to have nixed the Basic plan in the US and the UK. The other eight countries where “Standard with ads” is available still have the Basic plan on tap, including Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, and Mexico. It remains an open question how long that plan will continue to exist in those countries, though.

Netflix also hasn’t killed off the Basic plan in places that don’t offer an ad-supported tier. It’s a safe bet it will remain available in those regions as there’s no ad-supported plan for it to compete against.

After all, this seems like a calculated move on the part of Netflix to drive more users onto one of its two Standard plans. While the $15.49 monthly plan is obviously more profitable for Netflix, It’s likely also figured out that $6.99 plus ad revenue puts more money in its pocket than a flat $9.99 monthly subscription, so it’s a win for Netflix either way.

This also simplifies the lineup of Netflix plans, effectively reducing it to only the Standard and Premium tiers. While “Standard with ads” has some differences beyond the ads — you can’t download content for offline viewing, nor can you add extra member slots — it otherwise provides the same 1080p HD streaming quality and two screens as the ad-free version.

Meanwhile, Netflix Premium remains largely unchanged at the top of the heap. For $19.99/month, you get viewing on up to four devices (as long as they belong to members of your household) plus 4K Ultra HD streaming, downloads on up to six devices, Netflix spatial audio, and the option of paying for two extra member slots.

The one piece of good news is that Netflix won’t be forcing folks who are already on the Basic plan to switch. If you’re already a Netflix Basic subscriber, you can continue enjoying that $9.99 ad-free plan. However, if you change to another plan, it’s a one-way trip — you won’t be able to move back to the Basic plan.

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