When it comes to Netflix’s ad-supported tier, you never know what you’ll receive.

It’s Netflix with advertisements, but you won’t know how many until you press play. And some things are simply nonexistent.

You never know how many advertisements you’ll have to endure when you click into something on Netflix’s new advertising tier.

Finally available, Netflix Basic with Ads offers a cheaper monthly rate of $6.99 in exchange for the possibility of seeing some ads when watching movies and TV series. The experience of using Netflix was largely the same when I played about with a fresh account on the tier on Thursday, but what struck me was the unpredictable amount of advertisements I would have to view.

According to Netflix, there are “on average 4 to 5 minutes of advertisements every hour.” I had a similar experience, however I was shocked by the potential timing of the adverts. It’s not like watching broadcast television, where you could predict when and frequently how many commercial breaks there would be before the show resumed. Listed below are some of the variants I encountered:

Every Netflix-branded program or film I watched featured an ad at the beginning, but the quantity of midroll adverts varied.

There were no advertising for Community, Seinfeld, or Grey’s Anatomy.

I watched three Netflix movies, but there were no adverts in the middle or at the end of any of them.

There was one front ad and one midroll ad for the film Crazy, Stupid, Love.

There were three midroll adverts and two front ads for The Italian Job.

There were no advertisements for Spider-Man.

The advertisements themselves are very typical web video commercials. I received advertisements for stuff like automobiles, hotels, cruises, jewelry, and fragrances with my brand-new account. According to Netflix, commercials last 15 or 30 seconds, which matches my experience. Although Netflix kindly counts down how long the ad break is in the top-right corner of the screen, you cannot skip them; you can only pause them.

The fact that some things are simply unable to watch is a significant disadvantage of the advertisements tier. A small red padlock in the top right corner will indicate those programs and films. You cannot watch the show if you see that.

You can click on things with a padlock. On the web, Netflix will helpfully take you to a new screen that lets you immediately upgrade to a higher-priced tier with access to everything. On iOS, Netflix just suggests that you pick an ad-free plan but doesn’t directly point you to anything, likely due to Apple’s restrictive App Store rules.

It’s not exactly a surprise because Netflix has been hinting that certain products wouldn’t be available on the advertising tier owing to licensing issues. There weren’t many padlocks in the short time I spent with the advertisements tier, but there were a few surprises.

There is no way to access Arrested Development, which debuted on Fox and recently received fresh seasons on Netflix. The red padlock is included in four of the top ten movies in the US right now (including the number one film, The Bad Guys). In the search results for “classic movies” like Skyfall, 28 Days, and The Imitation Game, I also saw a lot of padlocks.If you choose the advertisements tier, you’ll have to put up with this problem because there’s no real way to tell if something isn’t available until you search for it (unless someone kind compiles a list of what’s blocked).

What I anticipated, Netflix Basic with Ads, is exactly what it is: Netflix, with Ads. Saving a few dollars with the less expensive tier can be worthwhile if it is something you can live with and you’re good with other choices like 720p video quality and no offline downloads. Since there are currently too many advertisements on the internet, I will personally continue to use the options with no adverts.


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