Other Than The Ads, Netflix's New Cheaper Subscription Plan Probably Has Another Big Drawback

Leni Mclearly in Echoes.
(Image credit: Netflix)

After previously taking a strong stance against the idea of implementing ads to its service, Netflix execs flipped those intentions with the announcement that a commercial-infused subscription plan will provide a cheaper option for streaming audiences in the near future. The concept of ad interruptions during Netflix binge sessions may be like nails on a chalkboard for some, but for others, it should provide access that might not have been so practical before. That said, it appears the cheaper fee will come with an additional drawback that seemingly wasn’t previously addressed during the company’s prior announcements. 

It was indeed confirmed earlier this year that the ad-based Netflix subscriptions wouldn’t allow access to its entire content library, with some original series and movies being exclusive to ad-free plans. And it looks like there will be more limitations for those who opt for the cheaper option, according to Bloomberg, as customers reportedly won’t be able to download features and TV shows for offline access the way that all subscribers currently can. That option will still be available for the ad-free plans. 

This update was discovered within the code of Netflix’s iPhone app, with developer Steve Moser first stumbling across the potentially major distinction between the two subscription tiers. Because the new plan’s introduction isn’t set to happen until next year, it’s entirely possible that the streaming giant will reverse course on that idea. 

But it does make sense why that set-up would exist, since Netflix might not be able to utilize adaptive advertising techniques through downloads being viewed without an Internet connection. It’s possible that such a workaround exists, of course, considering Netflix partnered up with tech giant Microsoft to bring the plan into existence. Still, one would think Netflix would take any chance it could to put ads in front of viewers in whatever capacity. 

As well, as it goes with just about all ad-based plans for streaming services, the Netflix code indicates that viewers will not be allowed to skip any ads, and that all playback controls will be unusable during commercials. That’s less of a setback than an expectation, though. And in that respect, Netflix is also following in line with HBO Max, where ad-supported plans also don’t allow for downloadable content. 

Why would Netflix choose to add additional limiting factors for ad-based plans? It’s almost definitely a tactic meant to eventually convince those customers to upgrade to the commercial-free version, since there wouldn’t be much of a need to otherwise for anyone fine with tolerating product-hocking in the middle of The Sandman.

Netflix’s current plans for 4K programming is around $20 a month, which is definitely on the steepest end of streaming fees from a single platform. So it’s assumed that its cheaper plan will be a huge hit around the world, particularly in areas where access to online entertainment is more luxury than second nature.

Until the company actually does unveil all of the details behind its ad-forward plans, take the above with a grain of salt, even if it’s as likely an unconfirmed report as can be. Head to our 2022 Netflix TV schedule to see what can be streamed commercial-free throughout the rest of the year. 

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.