Netflix has undergone major changes to its subscription plans and pricing in recent years as the streaming industry evolves. With multiple options now available, from a low-cost ad-supported plan to a premium ultra HD tier, it can get confusing to understand what you get with each Netflix package.
This comprehensive guide will explain Netflix‘s current subscription plans in detail, compare the features and limitations of each pricing tier, provide historical context on how Netflix‘s offerings have changed over time, and offer analysis on which plans provide the best value. Read on for everything you need to know to pick your ideal Netflix experience.
Overview of Current Netflix Subscription Plans
Netflix currently offers four subscription plan options for new and returning customers:
Netflix Standard with Ads
- Price: $6.99/month
- Video Quality: Up to 1080p HD
- Downloads: None
- Simultaneous Streams: 1
- Full Library Access: No, about 95% of total catalog
Netflix Basic (for existing subscribers only)
- Price: $9.99/month
- Video Quality: Up to 480p SD
- Downloads: On 1 device
- Simultaneous Streams: 1
- Full Library Access: Yes
- Price: $15.49/month
- Video Quality: Up to 1080p HD
- Downloads: On 2 devices
- Simultaneous Streams: 2
- Full Library Access: Yes
- Price: $19.99/month
- Video Quality: Up to 4K HDR
- Downloads: On 6 devices
- Simultaneous Streams: 4
- Full Library Access: Yes
As you can see, the plans scale up in features and price. The cheapest option is the ad-supported Standard plan, followed by the legacy Basic plan, then regular Standard, and finally Premium at the top end.
Key differences include streaming quality, number of supported devices, ability to download for offline viewing, and whether you get Netflix‘s full catalog or a limited version.
Comparing the Netflix Subscription Plans
Let‘s take a deeper look at how the four Netflix options compare across some key dimensions:
Streaming Video Quality
One major difference is the maximum streaming video resolution each plan offers:
- Basic: 480p SD quality
- Standard with Ads & Standard: 1080p HD quality
- Premium: 4K HDR quality
Standard with Ads and regular Standard offer the same Full HD 1080p resolution. But Premium is the only plan with 4K ultra HD streaming and support for technologies like High Dynamic Range (HDR) and Dolby Atmos surround sound that enhance picture and audio.
This makes Premium the best choice for home theater set-ups and viewers that want the highest quality cinematic experience. The other plans max out at HD or SD quality, which is noticeably lower on large or high-end screens.
Every Netflix plan limits how many devices can stream concurrently on one account:
- Basic: 1 stream
- Standard with Ads & Standard: 2 streams
- Premium: 4 streams
This is an important consideration if you share an account with family or roommates. Basic only allows one user at a time, making it a poor choice for households.
Standard or Premium are better for multiple people, with Premium optimal for bigger families or groups since four people can stream simultaneously. For individuals or couples, Standard is likely sufficient.
Number of Supported Devices for Downloads
Netflix allows you to download select titles for offline viewing on mobile devices. Here‘s how many devices support downloads on each plan:
- Basic: 1 device
- Standard: 2 devices
- Standard with Ads: 0 devices
- Premium: 6 devices
Downloading for planes, road trips, or other times without internet is a popular Netflix feature. But it comes with heavy restrictions on lower tiers. Basic only permits this on one device and Standard with Ads has no downloads at all.
Premium again stands out, letting you download shows or movies on up to six different smartphones or tablets. For frequent travelers, Premium can be worth it just for the extensive offline access alone.
Full Library Access vs Limited Catalog
Due to licensing limitations, the Netflix Standard with Ads plan only has access to about 95% of the full Netflix catalog. Certain movies and shows are unavailable on this tier.
All other plans – Basic, Standard, and Premium – do get the complete Netflix library with no restrictions. If you want to guarantee you can watch any Netflix title, an ad-free plan is required.
Brief History of Netflix Plans and Pricing
Looking back, how did Netflix‘s offerings evolve to reach this point? Here are some key moments:
1999: DVD rentals by mail launch with unlimited plans from $15.95 to $23.95 per month for various numbers of discs out at once.
2007: Netflix introduces streaming unlimited TV show and movie streaming bundled with DVDs, starting at $7.99 per month.
2010: Streaming offered as standalone plan for first time at $7.99 per month, in addition to DVD plans.
2013: Basic, Standard and Premium streaming plans introduced at $7.99, $9.99, and $11.99 monthly. Allowed 1, 2, and 4 simultaneous streams.
2014: Prices increased to $8.99, $9.99 and $11.99 per month.
2016: Streaming and DVD separated into individual plans. Streaming prices rose to $9.99, $12.99 and $14.99 for Basic, Standard and Premium.
2019: Basic, Standard and Premium increase to $8.99, $12.99 and $15.99 per month.
2022: Ad-supported Standard plan rolls out at $6.99 per month. HD streaming added to Basic. Current lineup solidified.
As this timeline shows, Netflix has continually tweaked its pricing and added new features like multiple streams, broader device support, and higher video quality in both streaming and DVD services.
The major reasons behind changes were to fund expanding content libraries, account for inflation, address password sharing, and maintain profitability as competition increased in the streaming industry.
Reasons Behind Netflix‘s Pricing Strategies
Some of the key factors that motivated changes to Netflix‘s plans over the years include:
Improving Streaming Video Quality: Higher prices enabled investments in streaming infrastructure and content capable of 4K and HDR visuals. This let Netflix match competitors and satisfy customers with premium home theater set-ups.
Managing Growth Costs: Prices increases helped fund Netflix‘s rapid subscriber growth around the world and the more than $17 billion they now spend annually creating original content.
Combating Password Sharing: Added fees for more simultaneous streams made it more expensive to share one account across multiple households.
Retaining Profit Margins: In the face of rising competition from services like Disney+, Hulu and HBO Max, price hikes ensured Netflix could maintain strong profits.
Adopting an Ad-Supported Tier: Following the lead of competitors, Netflix introduced an ad-supported plan at a lower price point to appeal to budget-conscious viewers.
Overall, Netflix has strategically adapted its pricing to balance consumer demand, the rising costs of a global streaming service, and investor expectations.
Interesting Facts About Netflix‘s Growth and Content
To put Netflix‘s pricing decisions in context, here are some fascinating stats about the streamer‘s subscriber base, content spending, and viewership:
Netflix has over 223 million paid subscribers worldwide as of October 2022.
The service is available in over 190 countries, catering to a global audience.
Netflix spends over $17 billion per year creating original movies, shows, and documentaries.
Estimates suggest Netflix has spent over $15 billion in total creating content since 2013.
Stranger Things season 4 set a new record for the biggest premiere weekend ever on Netflix, with over 287 million hours viewed.
Despite raising prices repeatedly, Netflix saw its subscriber base grow by over 70 million from 2018 to 2021.
Revenue doubled from $11.7 billion in 2018 to over $29.7 billion in 2021.
These figures demonstrate just how massive Netflix has become as a streaming entertainment service. The prices they charge support an incredibly expensive and ambitious global content engine.
Which Netflix Plan Provides the Best Value?
With all that context in mind, which Netflix plan offers the most bang for your buck? Here is a quick evaluation:
Standard with Ads – Best for budget-focused viewers who don‘t mind commercials and don‘t need advanced features.
Basic – Good for individuals that only need one stream and SD quality. But limited.
Standard – Ideal for couples and small families wanting HD streams on two devices.
Premium – The premium choice for HD & 4K quality, multiple streams, and extensive device support.
Ultimately, it depends on your priorities and needs:
If you want to save money and don‘t care about ads, Standard with Ads is a solid deal at just $6.99. For one or two people that still want an ad-free experience at a reasonable price, Standard hits a nice balance starting at $15.49.
But for larger households, the top video quality, and maximum device flexibility, Premium delivers the most complete Netflix experience. The bump to 4K streaming and four simultaneous streams makes the $19.99 Premium plan the best Netflix value for power users.
Summarizing the Pros and Cons of Each Netflix Plan
Standard with Ads – $6.99/month
- Cheapest Netflix price
- Still gets you Netflix originals and popular licensed shows
- Must watch 4-5 minutes of ads per hour
- No downloading capability
- Maxes out at 1080p Full HD resolution
- Can‘t access full Netflix catalog
Basic – $9.99/month (for existing subscribers only)
- No ads
- Cheaper than Standard & Premium
- 480p SD video quality
- One stream only
- Downloads on just 1 device
Standard – $15.49/month
- 1080p HD streaming
- 2 simultaneous streams
- Downloads on 2 devices
- Full Netflix catalog access
- No 4K or HDR
- Still quite limited device support
Premium – $19.99/month
- 4K + HDR streaming
- 4 simultaneous streams
- Downloads on up to 6 devices
- Best for multiple users
- Most expensive plan
- Overkill for single user
As you can see, every plan has advantages and disadvantages. It all comes down to aligning the Netflix tier you choose with your budget, quality needs, number of users, and device preferences.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you still have questions about Netflix pricing and plans, here are answers to some common queries:
Q: Can I switch Netflix plans anytime?
A: Yes, you can change your Netflix plan at any time through your account settings. Switching plans takes effect on your next billing cycle.
Q: Can I get Netflix Premium free?
A: There is no way to get Netflix Premium or any paid Netflix plans for free. You must subscribe to access their content.
Q: Does Netflix offer annual plans?
A: No, Netflix only offers monthly subscription plans that you can cancel anytime. There are no long-term annual contracts or commitments.
Q: Can I share my Netflix account with family or friends?
A: Netflix‘s terms of service officially only allow account sharing within the same household. But in practice, many people share outside their household up to the stream limit.
Q: How many devices can use Netflix at once?
A: It depends on your subscription plan – Basic allows 1 stream, Standard allows 2, and Premium allows 4 simultaneous streams from different devices.
Q: Can I watch Netflix on multiple TVs?
A: Yes, you can set up and use your Netflix account on multiple smart TVs and streaming devices within your home. Each TV would count as 1 stream.
I hope this comprehensive guide has helped explain Netflix‘s pricing options and provided the details you need to decide which plan fits your needs! Let me know if you have any other Netflix or streaming questions.