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How Bad Are The Ads On Netflix? We Took A Closer Look

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Netflix with ads example

With the cheapest ad-free Netflix plan now costing $15.49 a month, there’s never been a better time to consider signing up to the Standard with ads plan.

As a reminder, the Standard with ads plan costs just $6.99 a month, making it around $8.50 a month cheaper than the cheapest ad-free plan. That’s a good amount to save if you are willing to sit through the ads. Furthermore, we found the ad load to be pretty light, making the Standard with ads plan a good deal overall.

For those still on the fence on switching to Netflix’s ‘with ads’ tier, below is a closer look at what we experienced while subscribed to the Standard with ads plan. Hopefully, this will help you make a more informed decision on whether it is the right Netflix plan for you.

Netflix ads per hour

Officially, Netflix says that subscribers can “expect to see an average of about 4 minutes of ads per hour.” Netflix also adds that the exact number of ads per hour “may vary based on the title you’re watching.”

We actually found this to be a very conservative measurement. In fact, our testing suggests 4 minutes per hour should be better thought of as the worst-case scenario.

As an example, when watching a 20-minute episode, we encountered 1 ad break lasting 45 seconds and consisting of 2 ads. This is the equivalent to around 2 minutes, 25 seconds of ads per hour.

At the other end of the spectrum, when watching a 1 hour and 42 minute (102 minutes) movie there were seven ad breaks in total, with the duration of each break ranging between 15 and 60 seconds.

Here’s a full breakdown of those ads.

MinuteAd break durationNo. of ads
2230 seconds1 ad
3230 seconds1 ad
5015 seconds1 ad
6030 seconds1 ad
7030 seconds1 ad
8015 seconds1 ad
9015 seconds1 ad

As you can see from the table above, all seven commercial breaks resulted in a total ad time of 2 minutes and 45 seconds. Considering the movie lasted 101 minutes, this equated to around 1 minute and 37 seconds of ads per hour.

Based on these two examples (one short and one long), Netflix offers a light ad load compared to many other services and especially compared to free streaming services like Pluto TV and Tubi. It is also significantly less than the ad load subscribers to live TV streaming services typically encounter.

More ads per hour data

Obviously, two examples isn’t really enough to provide a good overview of the ad experience, so here’s a summary of the number and duration of ad breaks we encountered after sitting through a variety of videos lasting between 20 and 102 minutes.

LengthAd breaksNo. of adsTotal ad duration
20 mins2245 seconds
44 mins24105 seconds
48 mins35145 seconds
55 mins45120 seconds
56 mins3375 seconds
65 mins45120 seconds
70 mins47150 seconds
70 mins45120 seconds
75 mins35120 seconds
102 mins77165 seconds

All of these Netflix titles resulted in a total of 605 minutes, which is a little over 10 hours, and the total duration of ads experienced equated to 19 minutes and 25 seconds. Overall, this resulted in an average of 1 minute and 56 seconds of ads per hour.

Based on our experience, those signing up (or switching over) to the ad-supported plan can typically expect around two minutes of ads each hour. If watching shorter episodes then the average hourly ad load is likely to be a little higher than when watching longer episodes or movies.

The Netflix ad experience

In addition to the ad load being light in general, we also found the actual implementation of ads to be pretty good as well.

All videos that contain ads do display the ad breaks in the scrub bar, so it is easy to see how many ad breaks there are during the video, and roughly how far apart they are.

Netflix also offers the option to pause during an ad. While most people won’t necessarily want to pause an ad, it can help to avoid missing the next part of the video, especially if you need to leave the room briefly.

One of the nice things about Netflix’s ad experience is that ads are never shown during new movies. With all newly-released movies only containing ads before the movie begins, viewers can largely expect an uninterrupted viewing experience.

Netflix has also confirmed that it will be introducing the ability to watch select episodes without ads. This change is due to take place in the first quarter of 2024 and will make it possible to watch the fourth episode ad-free after watching three consecutive episodes.

Do we recommend Netflix’s Standard with plan?

Yes. If you are looking to save on the cost of Netflix then we don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t consider the Standard with ads plan. The ad load is very light and, at less than half the cost of the cheapest ad-free tier, there are some major savings to be had.

Even if you are not solely motivated by saving money, we would still recommend trying the Standard with ads plan and especially if already signed up to the Standard plan. After all, the differences are so minimal.

NetflixStandard with adsStandard
Price$6.99/mo.$15.49/mo.
Devices2 at a time2 at a time
Resolution
(max)
Full HDFull HD
Downloads2 devices at a time2 devices at a time
Extra membersNoneAdd 1 extra member

When it comes to the Premium plan, things are a little more complicated. If premium features, including 4K and Dolby Vision, are important to you, then you may be better off with the most expensive ad-free tier. For us, the premium features don’t justify the additional $15 a month the Premium plan costs following the most recent price increase.

Things to consider before signing up to Standard with ads

One point that you should absolutely be aware of before signing up to the Standard with ads plan is the availability of content in general. While ad-supported subscribers do get access to the majority of the Netflix catalog, some titles are not available to Standard with ads subscribers. Officially, Netflix says this is due to licensing issues.

From what we can tell, Sony movies (Sony Pictures, Columbia Pictures, and Screen Gems) make up the majority of the movies unavailable to Standard with ads subscribers, so that’s something to keep in mind.

Another point to be aware of is device support. While Netflix is available on a wide range of devices and platforms, some devices are incompatible with the Standard with ads plan. According to Netflix, the reason for this is that “the Netflix app or software on the device can’t be updated to a version that supports ads.”

As Netflix doesn’t specify which devices are incompatible with the ad-supported plan, we assume this is likely to be an issue that impacts homes using older devices that are still running older versions of the Netflix app.

Overall, so long as you are using a device that’s compatible with the Standard with ads plan, and missing out on Sony movies isn’t a major issue, we think Netflix’s ‘with ads’ plan offers the best value overall.

John Finn

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