Ads Are Coming to Netflix in November. Should You Make the Switch?

The streaming service is adding commercials. Is Netflix's "Basic with Ads" subscription worth it?

Netflix just announced what was once unimaginable: Running commercials during its programming. Starting Nov. 3, for a price of $6.99, subscribers can choose the new “Basic with Ads” tier, which will include an average of four to five minutes of commercials per hour. Netflix ads will run 15 or 30 seconds, playing before and during TV shows and films.

“In the grand scheme of things, it’s a very pro-consumer and consumer-friendly approach to be able to offer the wide variety of entertainment that we have at a lower price for them,” said Greg Peters, Netflix’s Chief Operating Officer and Chief Product Officer.

The move brings Netflix a step closer to traditional, ad-driven television. In the U.S., streaming services have already surpassed both cable and broadcast television for viewers. Netflix’s share of that streaming viewership is now around eight percent, the highest among the various streaming services.

Basic with Ads will feature much of Netflix’s huge amounts of original programming, including its best movies (including romantic comedies and classic family flicks) and best TV shows (including hits like The Sandman and Virgin River). However, a limited number of movies and shows will not be available, due to licensing restrictions, depending on where you live.

Here’s what you need to know:

What stays the same with your Netflix subscription?

According to Netflix, “Basic with Ads is everything people love about Netflix, at a lower price, with a few ads in-between.”

What will I lose if I switch to Basic with Ads?

Subscribers who switch to Basic with Ads will not be able to download titles anymore. So those who count on downloading films or shows when they travel will lose that ability. Also, depending on where you live, five to ten percent of Netflix’s catalog won’t be available.

Will ads disrupt my Netflix viewing experience?

Peters told reporters that the new commercials will be “quite limited and ideally quite thoughtfully placed ads experience,” but they will run for about four to five minutes every hour.

What Netflix ads will I see?

Netflix will help advertisers target consumers to make ads relevant to the audience. “Advertisers will also be able to prevent their ads from appearing on content that might be inconsistent with their brand (e.g. sex, nudity or graphic violence),” said Netflix, in its official statement on Basic with Ads.

What if I want to keep my Netflix as it is?

“Our existing members will not be impacted unless they choose to switch,” Peters says.

Is Netflix adding commercials worth it?

For those who want to save a few dollars per month and are comfortable with seeing a few commercials (just like old days of broadcast television!), Basic with Ads seems like a cost-effective new option.

Jason Wilson
Jason Wilson is a Senior Writer at Reader’s Digest. He has covered travel, culture, food, and drinks for more than two decades, and is the author of three books on wine and spirits, including Godforsaken Grapes and Boozehound. He’s written for the Washington Post, the New York Times, the New Yorker, Travel + Leisure, and many other publications. He’s had a pizza, a breakfast sandwich, and a dessert named after him in three different countries.