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Netflix with ads could kill show downloads

Netflix on a tablet
(Image credit: pixinoo / Shutterstock.com)

The long-teased Netflix ad-supported tier is on its way, but something Netflix may have neglected to mention is that you won't be able to download any content if you sign up for it.

Text found in the iOS Netflix app and shared by developer Steve Moser on his Substack (opens in new tab), seems to all but confirm that downloads will remain exclusive to more expensive Netflix plans. That would mean no offline binging of whatever the latest no. 1 show is, or any other content for that matter, unless you're prepared to pay more.

Downloads available on all plans except Netflix with ads.

Netflix iOS app text (via Steve Moser)

The text also points to ad personalization options when setting up the ad-supported plan, similar to how other ad-supported services encourage you to tell them which adverts you'd be interested in. 

Now, let’s set up your ad experience. We just need a few details to make sure you get the most relevant ads on Netflix. It’ll be really quick, we promise!

Netflix iOS app text (via Steve Moser)

Netflix with ads was confirmed a couple of months back, but it won't arrive until early next year by the looks of things. Netflix has also announced that the ad-supported plan rollout will be small to start with, with a widespread debut coming after this experimental phase. Depending on where you live, you may need to wait before you can take advantage of the new cheaper tier.

It's not surprising to see Netflix adopt this system, even after resisting adding ads for so long. Other services like Hulu and Peacock already offer ad-supported plans, and Disney Plus will be getting its own advertising plan before the end of the year too.

The code found in the Netflix iPhone app also indicates you won't be able to skip ads, or be able to control playback at all while they're running. Good for Netflix trying to make sure you watch them, but not good for users who won't be able to pause their show until the ad break is over. We'll reserve judgment until we hear how much Netflix will charge for the ad-supported tier, but it sounds like you'll have to put up with quite a few inconveniences to get the cheaper monthly payments.

Next: The Netflix supported ad-tier could land as soon as this year. Here's how to use Netflix's secret keyboard shortcuts for laptop streaming sessions.

Richard Priday
Staff Writer

Richard is a Tom's Guide staff writer based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.