Netflix ad-supported streaming needs to be free to be successful

With an ad-supported version of Netflix now on the way, there's a question of how much it will cost the viewer, but I think it shouldn't

Netflix logo on TV
(Image credit: SOPA Images / Getty Images)

Netflix is set to bring in a new, cheaper tier of its streaming service before the end of 2022. We now know that it will be Microsoft that is handling both the technology and the sales for the ad service but what we don't know is how much it will cost. 

The price you pay for Netflix varies massively depending on where you are in the world, as we revealed in our June Netflix story. The basic package can cost you anywhere from £1.81 to £9.86 (in equivalent currencies), while the top package ranges from £3.71 to £20.43. So where will the new lower tier sit?

My guess is that Netflix will try and pitch the pricing around a third under the basic package. So it's likely to cost around £4.99 in the UK and $6.99 in the US. Hulu in the US offers its ad-supported platform for around half the cost of its no-ad version though, so it could go a pound or dollar cheaper. 

Either way, this feels like the wrong price and simply following the herd. As one of the best streaming services, Netflix should be bolder about its ad service and rock the streaming market as it did in the first place. A Netflix ad-supported tier should be free. 

Netflix current UK pricing

Netflix current UK pricing

(Image credit: Netflix)

Of course, everyone wants something for free and the service still need to make money, but hear me out. The point of an ad-supported service is that the money comes from the advertisers and the bigger the audience, the more advertisers will pay. So what better way to get the biggest audience than to make the service free?

No one likes having to sit through ads but we do it on terrestrial TV channels, because the service is free. Would I pay to use a service and still have to watch ads? Probably not. 

At a time when all streaming services are considering supplementing their incomes with some kind of ad model, Netflix shouldn't just copy. Netflix's audience has dropped post-lockdown, so it needs to find a way to bring the masses back. What better way to blow the competition out of the water than provide free streaming?

Microsoft can handle the demand, if anyone can, of the kind of advertising needed to pull off something of this scale. The question is, has Netflix got the balls to go free? I really hope so. 

As T3's Editor-in-Chief, Mat has his finger on the pulse for the latest advances in technology. He has written about technology since 2003 and after stints in Beijing, Hong Kong and Chicago is now based in the UK. He’s a true lover of gadgets, but especially anything that involves cameras, electric cars, musical instruments or travel.