Netflix's Upcoming Ad-Supported Tier Won't Allow Downloads for Offline Viewing
The upcoming ad-supported Netflix tier that's in the works will not allow subscribers to download TV shows or movies to watch offline, reports Bloomberg. The restriction was found in code in the Netflix app for iOS devices, which reads "Downloads available on all plans except Netflix with ads."
Standard Netflix plans allow some Netflix content to be downloaded for offline viewing, and restricting that feature to the more expensive Netflix tiers will allow Netflix to differentiate between existing plans and the new ad-supported plan.
Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos confirmed in June that Netflix is planning for a more affordable Netflix tier that is aimed at those who do not mind ads and who do not want to pay for an ad-free Netflix subscription. "We've left a big customer segment off the table, which is people who say: 'Hey, Netflix is too expensive for me and I don't mind advertising,'" Sarandos said. "We are adding an ad tier; we're not adding ads to Netflix as you know it today. We're adding an ad tier for folks who say, 'Hey, I want a lower price and I'll watch ads.'"
Bloomberg says that Netflix also does not plan to allow customers to skip ads or access playback controls while ads are playing, and Netflix previously confirmed that some content would be limited to ad-free streaming. The ad-supported Netflix tier is not set to launch until early 2023, however, so there could be updates as Netflix finalizes its plans.
There is no word yet on what the ad-supported Netflix service will be priced at, but Netflix has raised its prices several times in recent years. The Basic Netflix plan is now priced at $9.99 and it offers 480p streaming, while the Standard plan is priced at $15.49 for 1080p resolution. Netflix's most expensive Premium plan, priced at $19.99 per month, is the sole tier that offers 4K HDR streaming. Netflix continues to be only streaming service that charges extra for improved streaming quality, and the ad-supported tier will likely offer streaming quality similar to the Basic plan.
Netflix is introducing an ad-supported tier because it has been losing customers and revenue. The company lost subscribers for the first time in 10 years in the first quarter of 2022, and blamed both "a large number of households sharing accounts" and "competition."
In addition to adding a cheaper plan, Netflix is also going to crack down on account sharing. Netflix says that approximately 222 million paying households are sharing with another 100 million households that are not being monetized, with the company planning to implement more effective monetization of multi-household sharing" in the future. Fees for multi-household account sharing are already being tested in some countries and could expand to additional countries in the future.