Finally! Cheap Seats Netflix with Ads Coming in Early 2023

No price yet, and the ad-supported model will launch in select markets at first, but if you want a less pricey Netflix with ads—you’ll get it

Netflix has squeezed out a little more info about its long-discussed plans to offer a cheapo version of itself chock full of commercials. The streamer said Tuesday as part of its Q2 earnings announcement that it will launch its ad-supported iteration in early 2023, wherein consumers can pay a lower price in exchange for sitting through commercials that barge in on their shows at the worst possible moments—just like real TV.

But don’t start counting your savings just yet. As Variety reports, the retro-network version of Netflix will indeed roll out in early 2023, but not all at once.

“We’ll likely start in a handful of markets where advertising spend is significant,” the company said in its second-quarter letter to shareholders. “Like most of our new initiatives, our intention is to roll it out, listen and learn, and iterate quickly to improve the offering.”

And everyone’s onboard, Netflix COO Greg Peters assured investors on the company’s Tuesday earnings call.

“We have seen a lot of excitement in our early discussions with brands, holding companies and agencies,” Peters said, via The Hollywood Reporter, adding that marketers have longed to get in on the Netflix game. “That enthusiasm, that alignment is increasing my optimism, my excitement for getting this out there… the response that we are getting from a brand and advertiser perspective is quite strong.”

Pricing options are still being worked out, although there is much speculation on Wall Street and beyond about what Netflix could charge. Perfecting the ad model will be a process that takes “years,” Peters said. “Its what we call the crawl, walk, run model.”

And while ad-supported viewers will be able to see most of what’s on Netflix, they won’t be able to see quite all of it, warnds Ted Sarandos, co-CEO and chief content officer. Issues with rights are still being worked out. But what could possibly go wrong?

“The vast majority of what people watch on Netflix we can include in the ad-supported tier today,” Sarandos said in the recorded earnings call. “Some things we’re in conversations with studios on. We will clear some additional content. Not all of it. I don’t think it’s a material hold-back to the business.”

Not all of it, Ted?

That small issue aside, the streamer announced last week a partnership with Microsoft as its exclusive advertising partner for the plan. Netflix has been talking about such a model since April. It’s a major departure for the service, which has been proudly ad-free since the beginning.

Which the competition thinks is just great. At May’s TV Upfronts in New York—where networks make their annual pilgrimage to woo advertisers to their fall lineups—the formerly prestige Netflix was roasted by presenters for its decision to get into the ad gutter with everyone else.

“Everybody loves Bridgerton,” said late-nighter Jimmy Kimmel at Disney’s upfront event. “How much do you think they’ll love it when it’s interrupted by a Nurtec commercial every four minutes, you zillion-dollar dicks?”

This decision, as undoubtedly many of Netflix’s decisions nowadays, comes in consideration of the disastrous surprise loss of 200,000 subscribers in first quarter of 2022—its largest subscriber loss in a decade. The loss prompted CEO Reed Hastings to say he was a fan of “consumer choice.”

Most streamers already offer lower-cost ad-supported options, including Hulu, HBO Max, Discovery+, Paramount+ and Peacock. Even Disney+ is planning an ad-supported version at the end of this year.

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