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Netflix could launch streaming with ads even sooner than we expected

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The plan has reportedly shifted from ‘the next year or two’ to ‘by the end of this year’

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

It has been less than a month since Netflix announced slowing revenue growth and its first subscriber drop in over a decade, and now The New York Times reports that it’s accelerating the schedule on initiatives to turn those things around.

Netflix was already openly talking about pushing people who share their account logins to pay more, and once the report came out, co-CEO Reed Hastings changed his tune on ad-supported streaming, saying he would try to figure it out over the “next year or two.” According to the Times, a recent note to employees said executives are now aiming to introduce the ad tier at some point in the last three months of 2022, with a crackdown on password sharing starting in the same window.

Disney Plus announced its own intentions for ad-supported streaming in March, and Catie Keck wrote about that, asking how long would it take for others to follow. The answer appears to be “not very long at all,” as the Times said the note specifically mentions the fact that all of Netflix’s streaming competitors, with the exception of Apple TV Plus, either offer or have announced ad-supported streaming tiers.

When Netflix announced its new focus on password sharing, analyst Richard Greenfield of LightShed Partners told The Verge that this could be the way for it to close a gap of an extra 10 to 20 million customers in the US.

All of these changes also arrive as Netflix is now more expensive than ever. The most recent price hike raised the monthly price of its standard HD streaming plan with two simultaneous streams by $1.50 to $15.49 per month, while its premium tier with 4K and four simultaneous streams now costs $19.99 in the US.

Disclosure: The Verge is currently producing a series with Netflix.