Netflix with ads is even worse for movies than shows — here’s why

A TV with the netflix logo and show art is on fire
(Image credit: Tom's Guide/Netflix/Shutterstock)

Netflix with ads arrived earlier this month, and we quickly found out that its missing titles issue was pretty bad. As we first discovered, some of the best Netflix shows — such as The Good Place and House of Cards — were missing. Today, we've got more clarity on which streamers will want to avoid Netflix with ads.

According to a new report from streaming site JustWatch (one of our favorite resources for finding where to watch shows and movies), visualized in the graphic below, the discrepancy for titles in ad-free Netflix and Netflix with ads is far worse for movies. 

As of today (Nov. 17), per the graphic below, Netflix with ads ($6.99 per month) has only has 2,714 movies, which is a whopping 1,066 titles shy of the 3,807 movies in the ad-free Netflix (starting at $9.99 for Netflix Basic). This list includes standup comedy specials.

That's 28% of Netflix's movie library, missing in action. And those titles include some of the best movies on Netflix.

A chart compares the number of titles in Netflix with ads and regular Netflix — with 3807 movies in regular Netflix and 2741 in Netflix with ads (a gap of 1,066) and 2204 TV shows in Netflix and 2112 in Netflix with ads, a gap of 92 shows.

(Image credit: JustWatch)

The numbers are better (but not great) for TV shows, with 2,112 series in Netflix with ads — 92 fewer than ad-free Netflix's 2,204 count. That means there are 11.6 times as many movies missing on Netflix with ads than there are shows missing.

These movies are always going to be changing, but JustWatch notes that as of now, you need to pay for ads to get titles such as Where the Crawdads Sing, Casino Royale, Raw (one of the best horror movies on Netflix), Hannah Gadsby: Douglas, Red, MOTHER and Psycho. That could be enough to make someone want to pay the extra $3 to get Netflix Basic without ads.

As for missing shows, favorites such as Netflix's own Formula 1: Drive to Survive, Dark, Narcos, and She-Ra and the Princesses of Power aren't in Netflix with ads either. 

Analysis: Netflix with ads feels rushed

When I tested Netflix with ads, I found that a lack of titles wasn't the only big problem. Ad insertion for The Crown felt almost-random for when the ads were dropped, and when we did see them, they clashed harshly with the moments of the show.

On top of that, Netflix with ads is only available as Netflix Basic with Ads — so you need to downgrade your streaming quality to 720p. That meant a splotchier, lower-resolution image quality.

Oh, and then, Netflix's ads aren't actually in some of the programming. When I tried to watch Community and Seinfeld, those shows — which were made to be shown with ad breaks — didn't have any.

All in all, it feels like Netflix with ads was rushed out the door before it was ready, especially with over 1,000 movies missing. It's an experience that doesn't feel befitting of one of the best streaming services.

Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.