Netflix will automatically serve users ads if on this ad-free plan

Netflix is withdrawing its Basic package for subscribers after doing so for new sign-ups (Ian West/PA Archive)
Netflix is withdrawing its Basic package for subscribers after doing so for new sign-ups (Ian West/PA Archive)

Netflix customers are fuming after discovering they could be made to watch adverts despite paying to avoid them.

The streaming giant is apparently telling Brits about a massive change to the service’s cheapest ad-free tier. As the Standard previously reported, Netflix has axed its Basic subscription plan for new users – and now it’s doing the same for existing customers.

But there’s a massive catch: Netflix is telling Basic members, who currently pay £7 per month, that it will automatically downgrade them to the Standard with Ads plan on the date of their next bill. As a result, they’ll be forced to sit through adverts – which have historically been anathema for Netflix subscribers.

To rub salt in the wound, they could also miss out on some of their favourite shows if they make the switch. What Netflix fails to mention in its email to customers is that the ad-supported tier is missing some content compared with the unrestricted ad-free plans.

Netflix is spinning the change as a way to save money. “You'll save 35% with your new monthly plan,” the email states about the £5 a month Standard with ads tier.

It also mentions that the plan has better video quality: full HD (1080p) versus Basic’s regular HD (720p). And, you can watch on two devices simultaneously, as long as they’re in the same household – we know how Netflix feels about password-sharing, after all.

What’s the alternative, we hear you ask? Well, Basic members can either cancel or pay £11 or £18 a month for either the Standard or Premium ad-free options – an increase of 57 per cent or 157 per cent respectively every month.

By contrast, Netflix is apparently telling Canadian users that they must choose a new plan otherwise their Basic subscription will be cancelled on their next billing date. In its email, the company recommends the ad-supported plan but there’s no mention of an automatic switchover.

Some customers are letting out their frustrations on social media. “Just got the same email, and I won’t be paying more. I also detest ads, so Netflix will be gone,” writes one unhappy user on Reddit.

“Just got the same email, cancelled subscription immediately,” states another.

“Paying AND having to watch ads is a no-go for me. I'll just cancel,” noted another customer.

In more bad news for Netflix customers, they could be forced to pay a TV licence on top of their streaming bill if they want to watch Netflix’s live events, including the upcoming Jake Paul versus Mike Tyson fight.

The Standard has asked Netflix for comment.