I've been following the details of the forthcoming ad-supported, more affordable version of Netflix with interest: while people might argue about whether Netflix is the best streaming service, it's definitely one of the more expensive ones. So after a string of relatively disappointing leaks suggesting that the ad-funded version won't offer downloads for offline viewing, it's nice to see something a bit more positive.
According to Bloomberg, Netflix reckons it can still make tons of money without plastering everything with adverts, and may not put adverts in some of its original content – for a while, at least – or any child accounts.
That's good news not just for viewers but for creators who might not want to see their masterpiece bracketed with ads.
What content will be ad-free on Netflix's cheapest plan?
According to our old pal "people familiar with the matter", Netflix may not run any ads on original movies for a certain period of time after their initial release, although ads will come to them later. And it also plans to keep its own original programming for kids ad-free.
That's an interesting one, because if Netflix only runs its own kids' content ad-free that could be seen as anti-competitive behaviour. So it seems likely that it'll extend the ad-free option to at least some of its third party content providers.
That could be why Netflix has already said that the ad-funded tier won't include all its current content. According to the Bloomberg report some of Netflix's existing contracts don't allow for the firm to run ads, so renegotiating those is likely to involve more cash; some studios may well refuse to license their content for the ad-based service at all. That's good news for the contract lawyers who'll be working through all of this stuff, but it's likely to mean in the short term at least there could be some significant gaps in the ad-funded catalogue.
We'll find out soon enough. The new ad-supported Netflix tier is expected to launch in the US in early 2023, and it's expected to launch in other markets such as the UK shortly afterwards; Microsoft is providing the ad system.