Heads Up Budget Streamers, Netflix Has Started Nuking Its Cheapest Ad-Free Plan

Hand holding a remote in front of a TV that is blurred in the background.
As we reported at the beginning of the year, Netflix has every intention of phasing out its cheapest ad-free streaming plan, Netflix Basic, which costs subscribers $11.99 USD per month in the US and $9.99 CAD in Canada. Lest you were hoping Netflix would change its mind, Netflix has begun letting some subscribes know that the end is nigh, with notifications showing up stating exactly when the cheaper, ad-free ride will end.

Based on a handful of Reddit posts, the Netflix Basic plan will disappear this month, presumably aligned with whatever day a subscriber's monthly subscription renews. And according to one user ('mildlyinfuriating'), Netflix is forcing affected subscribers to choose a new plan ahead of their renewal date just to keep watching, even though their current Netflix Basic plan is not yet expired. At least it appears that way at first glance.

Netflix notification about its Basic plan being discontinued.

"Netflix won't let me watch the last few weeks of my subscription without resubscribing. There's no option to continue watching without selecting a new plan," the user wrote.

For this particular user, Netflix's notification indicates that their Basic plan will expire on July 13, with a seemingly forced option to "Choose a new plan." However, the notification also directs the user to visit Netflix's website to cancel their current plan, and doing so should allow them to continue watching ad-free content up until July 13 (since Netflix essentially uses a prepaid subscription model).

The silver lining for streamers on a budget is that Netflix is actually much cheaper for anyone willing to put up with ads—the 'Standard with ads' costs $6.99 USD per month in the US and $9.99 CAD in Canada. That tier includes "all but a few movies and TV shows," along with unlimited mobile gaming, Full HD 1080p streaming, the ability to watch on two supported devices at the same time, and the ability to download to two devices as well.

Unfortunately, this also amounts to a price hike for those who want to maintain an ad-free experience. That means bumping up to Netflix's 'Standard' plan at $15.49 USD / $16.49 CAD per month. The Standard tier removes all ads and grants access to Netflix's entire catalog. Everything else is the same, except Standard subscribers also have the option of adding an extra member who doesn't live with them, for a fee ($7.99 USD / $7.99 CAD per month).

The other option is Netflix's 'Premium' plan, which runs $22.99 USD / $20.99 CAD per month. Netflix's top plan ups the ante with 4K Ultra HD streaming (on supported content) and spatial audio, the ability to watch on up to four device at a time and download to six devices, and the option of adding up to two extra members at $7.99 USD / $7.99 CAD a pop.

For the time being, it appears as though Netflix is only phasing out is Basic plan in Canada and the UK, at least based on the posts in the Reddit thread. it's not clear when US subscribers will be affected. When pressed for comment, Netflix simply points to its statement made earlier this year, in which it remarked, "The ads plan now accounts for 40% of all Netflix sign-ups in our ads market and we're looking to retire our Basic plan in some of our ads countries, starting with Canada and the UK in Q2 and taking it from there."

Netflix posted a $2.33 billion profit in the first quarter of this year, up from $938 million the previous quarter and $1.3 billion in the first quarter of 2023. The streaming giant plans to release its second-quarter 2024 earnings report on July 18, 2024.