Netflix’s cheapest ad-free plan is dead — here’s what you’ll pay now

Someone holding a remote pointed at a TV with the Netflix logo on it
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Netflix users knew this day was coming, but that doesn’t make it any less painful. The streamer has now begun retiring its cheapest ad-free subscription, known as the Basic plan. 

The news was first confirmed back in January that Netflix would be scrapping the Basic plan in select regions in Q2 2024. Subscribers have taken to social media platforms such as Reddit to lament a notification on their Netflix account explaining that the "Basic plan has been discontinued" and they have until July 13 to “choose a new plan to keep watching."

Can't finish Netflix subscription from r/mildlyinfuriating

This pop-up notification has appeared in the U.K. and Canada, indicating the streaming giant is adopting a slower phase-out strategy, consistent with its previous service changes. As of writing, we’ve yet to see reports of U.S. accounts being notified.

Netflix subscribers on the Basic plan will soon need to pick a new subscription tier if they want to continue to access the platform’s library of movies, TV shows and mobile games. There are currently a few options available, but they all either cost more money or come with a pretty significant caveat: advertisements. 

If ads aren’t a dealbreaker for you, the cheapest plan is Standard with ads and costs $6.99 per month. Can’t handle pesky commercials? (I don't blame you.) The cheapest ad-free tier is now Standard at $15.49 per month, or you can upgrade to Premium which costs a pretty hefty $22.99 a month but does include 4K content. 

Netflix hasn’t given a firm reason why it decided to retire the $11.99 per month Basic plan (and also hasn’t commented on when U.S. subscribers will be forced to make the switch), but our best guess is it’s a simple numbers game. It’s more advantageous for Netflix to have users on an ad-supported tier, and this move will likely drive many accounts to the $6.99 tier, or see them pay a larger monthly fee. 

After claiming in 2020 that the company had “no interest” in an ads tier, before then having a rethink and launching one in 2022, Netflix’s ad-free plan has been a big success. It’s the tier of choice for over 40 million Netflix subscribers and a 2023 earnings call suggested that ad-supported accounts are more financially valuable than users paying more for no ads. 

If you’re on the Basic plan and have yet to be notified that your subscription is coming to an end, consider yourself lucky, but be mindful that it’s almost certainly just a matter of time before you face the same warning. Afterward, you’ll either have to cough up more money each month or tolerate advertisements. Neither choice is especially great. 

Streaming prices are skyrocketing

Netflix's move to eliminate the Basic plan is just part and parcel of what's going on in the overall streaming industry: rising prices. 

Paramount Plus recently announced a price hike, and Max also increased the cost of its plans. Peacock is instituting higher prices just in time for the Olympics. Disney Plus, Hulu and Apple TV Plus have all become more expensive in the past year.

Streaming was supposed to save us from cable hell, but instead, it's slowly becoming just as expensive as cable when you look at what streaming costs in 2024. If you subscribe to the cheapest (usually ad-supported) plans of all eight major streaming services, you'll pay $58 per month. That's on top of what you pay for the internet since you can't stream without it. 

The era of affordable, blissfully ad-free streaming is certainly over. 

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Rory Mellon
Entertainment Editor (UK)

Rory is an Entertainment Editor at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics but with a particular focus on gaming and streaming. When he’s not reviewing the latest games, searching for hidden gems on Netflix, or writing hot takes on new gaming hardware, TV shows and movies, he can be found attending music festivals and getting far too emotionally invested in his favorite football team. 

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