Should you switch to the cheapest Netflix plan? What to know before you do

(KTLA) — Netflix still offers its cheapest plan, but there’s a catch. For the first time, subscribers will see ads in their shows and movies.

Basic with AdsThe plan costs just $6.99 per month, $3 less than the next-cheapest plan and $13 less than the company’s top-of-the-line plan.

“[Streaming] companies realized that to keep people coming, they had to think of more economical ways to get people to subscribe — people can’t afford all the services in the world,” said Brian SteinbergVariety editor covering the TV advertising business.

Credits: Netflix website

Should you switch to a new plan? There are some pros and cons.

It is available to both new and existing customers, and you can downgrade by logging into your account and selecting “change plan”.

Keep in mind, if you sign up for or switch to a new plan, you’ll need to let Netflix know your birthday and gender.

Also, if you’re using an Apple TV to watch Netflix or a very old Chromecast device, the new plan may not work at this time.

The Basic Plan with Ads currently has about four minutes of ads per hour. Some are early in the show, others are randomly inserted.

You can’t skip ads, but you can pause them. When I signed up for the new plan, the ads I saw were for well-known brands including Hilton, Best Western, and Tiffany.

“These people are not ashamed that they need more money and more cash flow, so I suspect over time, you might see four to five minutes escalate to six, seven, eight, nine, 10,” says Steinberg.

Ads are personalized based on what you watch on Netflix, plus your age, gender and location.

Cheap plans stream in the lowest HD resolution — 720p — and you can’t download shows to watch offline, for example, on flights.

Also, ad-supported plans do not include all shows and movies. Items you can’t watch are marked with a lock. This can get annoying quickly if it’s a show or movie you want to watch. There is no way to preview this option before you register.

Scrolling, I saw more movies with locks. It seems like a lot of third-party content that is not created by Netflix itself is locked.

Cheap plans also limit you to streaming on one device at a time. This can get tricky if you share accounts with household members and you both want to watch something on different devices in different rooms at the same time.

Netflix with ads is part of a larger trend toward low-cost, free streaming options. HBO, HULU, Peacock, and Paramount+ all offer cheaper plans that include ads.

Amazon FreeVee, Tuvi, and Pluto TV all offer free, ad-supported streaming services.

“People are leaving TV to get away from advertising… well now it’s back, and I think it’s here to stay,” concludes Steinberg.

Separately, Netflix has also launched a new tool called Manage Access and Deviceswhich allows you to see all the devices that are logged into your Netflix account and when they last streamed something.

It also lets you remotely remove access to that device, which Netflix has found useful if you forgot to go out at a hotel or a friend’s house.

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