Netflix and ads: Your need to know guide

Since streaming has been a thing, Netflix has been at the forefront of the market spearheading the charge for people to cut their cords, stop delaying gratification and pay for high-end ad-free slick productions that they can watch on any device at any time.

But things have changed in recent times as the cost of living crisis globally begins to bite and streaming services have seen viewers choose to slim down their subscriptions at a time when more and more subscription services are launching.

And with the media and economic landscape changing so fast, it’s no wonder Netflix has seen it needs to make a change and has followed the lead of several services like HBO Max and Hulu (plus soon Disney+) to offer an ad-funded cheaper model for the service.

So, what is this cheaper Netflix service?

In short, until now the cheapest way you can get Netflix in the UK is for £6.99 a month, this is a standard definition offering and therefore you would imagine many people upgrade to the HD standard plan which is £10.99 a month.

From 3rd November at 4pm GMT, UK viewers will have the option of a service that is just £4.99 a month.

“Great, I’ll get that…” I hear you say. But wait, there are a few differences…

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So Netflix has adverts?

The new basic plan which will be initially available in 12 territories at a similar price point (Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Spain, the UK and the US) will carry adverts, which is how Netflix are going to make their money back.

How many adverts? Well, according to the streaming giant, they plan to show “four to five” minutes of adverts per hour of viewing.

And what will these ads be like?

Well, it sounds like the ads will be quite similar to the sort that streamers on other platforms may be used to seeing. Primarily mid-roll and pre-roll.

Ads will be 15-30 seconds long and will be targeted to be suitable for the type of content you are watching. Therefore you shouldn’t expect to see advertising that is incongruous with the TV show or movie’s themes and age rating.

Those choosing the ad tier at £4.99 will need to register with their email, date of birth and gender in order to get started – and presumably to allow the ads to be more targeted.

Anything else I need to know?

Well, yes. As well as ads, “a limited number of films and TV series won’t be available due to licensing restrictions, which we’re working on” on the cheaper tier and there will be “no ability to download titles.”

So, in reality, this means that the new £4.99 tier won’t suit everyone – especially those who like the biggest range of content available outside of Netflix Originals, and those who use Netflix while on the move without internet (tube commuters, frequent flyers etc.)

However, for those who are watching with a signal and have no issue with a few ads, this is a significant saving that could keep you in Stranger Things and The Crown without being out of pocket.

Will this take off?

Well, only time will tell, but it seems there will be an audience for this cheaper version – just as there is in the US already for the ad-funded versions of Hulu and HBO Max.

Netflix says: “While it’s still very early days, we’re pleased with the interest from both consumers and the advertising community and couldn’t be more excited about what’s ahead.:

And will this become the norm across the globe for Netflix users? It seems likely. The streamer says:

“As we learn from and improve the experience, we expect to launch in more countries over time.”

If the ad-funded model isn’t for you, = Netflix will continue to provide the same ad-free basic, standard and premium tiers going forward, so as they put it, now “there’s a plan for every fan.”

Tim Glanfield

Tim Glanfield is a journalist, editor and broadcaster with more than 15 years experience writing about television, film and the entertainment business. He has been editor of, a writer for The Times (of London) and the Guardian as well as a freelance contributor to newspapers, magazines and websites across the world. He is author of the book Digital Economy or Bust: The Story of a New Media Startup and makes regular appearances on TV and radio in the UK.

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