Although Netflix no longer allows new or returning members to sign up for the ad-free Basic subscription that costs $11.99 per month, company executives told investors while reporting its earnings results today that it’s retiring the plan in some countries where ad-supported plans are available. It’s starting with Canada and the UK in the second quarter of this year.
That leaves subscribers with Netflix’s $15.49 per month option as Netflix’s cheapest ad-free plan. Going from $11.99 to $15.49 per month is a pretty big jump, and means there’s really no middle ground for ad-free plans. Otherwise, subscribers will have to pay $6.99 per month for its ad-supported basic plan or $22.99 per month for the Premium tier. Netflix stopped letting new subscribers sign up for its Basic plan in Canada last year before rolling out the change to the US and UK.
In Q4‘23, like the quarter before, our ads membership increased by nearly 70% quarter over quarter, supported by improvements in our offering (e.g., downloads) and the phasing out of our Basic plan for new and rejoining members in our ads markets. The ads plan now accounts for 40% of all Netflix sign-ups in our ads markets 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.
In a video interview for investors, co-CEO Greg Peters said the ad-supported offering is now at 23 million monthly active users and that Netflix’s priority for it is “scale.” He said that included making it more attractive with upgrades like last year’s changes to the cheapest version that bumped the resolution to 1080p, added multiple streams, and switched on downloads, and how Netflix is “shifting our plans and pricing structure in other places.”
Netflix also announced that it added 13.1 million subscribers during the final quarter of 2023, bringing its total number to 247 million globally.
Netflix’s service has added a lot of new features over the years, with 4K streams and its push into gaming, but don’t expect those upgrades to come for free forever. The executives write, “As we invest in and improve Netflix, we’ll occasionally ask our members to pay a little extra to reflect those improvements.” Netflix raised the prices of its Basic and Premium plans last year.
Earlier today, Netflix made the surprise announcement that it struck a 10-year deal to air the WWE’s Monday Night Raw. The $5 billion deal will bring the live weekly show to streaming after over three decades of airing on linear television. Under the terms of the deal, Netflix will get Monday Night Raw for 10 years, with a chance to end the contract after five. NBCUniversal’s Peacock currently has a library of WWE content on its service, but it doesn’t air Monday Night Raw live. Peacock also still has the rights to the WWE’s premium events, like the Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania.
Netflix has only been wading deeper into live sports over the past several months — even after the streamer said it would stick to “sports-adjacent” streaming. In November, the company aired its first live sports broadcast — a golf competition between PGA pros and F1 racers — and later announced its plans to host a live tennis match this March featuring veteran player Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz. Netflix’s WWE deal marks its biggest foray into sports yet.
Disclosure: The Verge recently produced a series with Netflix.
Update January 23rd, 5:30PM ET: Added information from the earnings call.