Netflix’s next ad tier might not let you download shows

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A phone with the word folder at the top of the screen containing Netflix and Microsoft app icons.

Netflix announced earlier this year that it was partnering with Microsoft to create its ad-based subscription tier.
Photo: Koshiro K (Shutterstock)

“Would it be that simple,” says aspiring young Western actor Hobie Doyle in the Coen Brothers film Hello, Caesar! He continually struggles to portray a high-society style of speech far removed from his plain old boy roots. Hello, Caesar! is currently viewable on Netflix, although recent reports show that if the streaming service goes ahead with its ad-supported subscription tier, you won’t be able to download these movies to watch offline on the go. . “If only it were that simple”, indeed.

Steve Moser, iOS developer and tech blogger, discovered for the first time text in the app that indicates plans to limit offline viewing, and posted that information on its blog on Tuesday evening. The app description text reads as follows:

“Downloads available on all plans except Netflix with ads.”

Additionally, the streaming company apparently wants to ask relevant questions related to serving “relevant ads” to users. It’s unclear if this means some form of targeted advertising or something else.

“Now, let’s set up your advertising experience.

We just need a few details to make sure you get the most relevant ads on Netflix. It will be very fast, I promise!

Netflix declined to comment on the story. In a statement, a spokesperson said: “We are still in the early days of the decision to launch an ad-supported option at a lower price and no decision has been made. So all of this is not only speculation at this point.

Other streaming services like Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video let you download movies for offline viewing, though you’re not allowed to download movies on ad-based tiers on services like HBO Max (soon to be combined with Discovery+).

Netflix’s ad-based tier could release early next year, though the company has yet to set a firm date for that release. Of course, months away, plans could change. We still have no idea how much the ad-based subscription tier will cost compared to the other, likely more expensive, ad-free tiers. Just recently, Disney+ revealed that its new ad-based levels would effectively take control the price of the old packages without advertising. If you want to watch The Mandalorian without being regularly interrupted, you will have to shell out a few extra dollars.

At Netflix last call on earningsGreg Peters, chief product officer, said he wanted the ad experience to be “fundamentally different” from other streaming services, and he also didn’t elaborate on whether there might be more than one. ad-based level.

Earlier this year, the streaming company announced that it had exploited Microsoft to boost its advertising offers. It’s unclear what kinds of “innovations” Microsoft might bring to Netflix in terms of ads, but company executives continue to talk about wanting to differentiate themselves from other streaming services that offer cheaper ad-based subscriptions. Microsoft had acquired the ad tech company alexander in June, which promises to connect “marketers and media owners through data-driven, first-party advertising.” Although, as pointed out ForbesNetflix doesn’t like to share its user data and viewership statistics with strangers (not even people who do the shows). This means that Microsoft and Xandr have to be very careful about how they use user data, which is why it’s interesting to see Netflix apparently planning to ask users its own set of questions, which may better display relevant ads. .

Of course, one way to beat the system is to have Netflix show you ads for things you have absolutely no interest in, helping you tune out and ignore the creeping blasts of marketing yelling at you from your TV. or your device. It’s not fun having to do 4D chess with marketers to avoid being manipulated into buying products, but that’s where we are.

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