Skip to content

Netflix Premium vs Standard: An In-Depth Feature Comparison

Streaming films and television shows has become an integral entertainment staple across countless households thanks to popular platforms like Netflix. With the on-demand accessibility Netflix provides, subscribing users have a vast library of content at their fingertips.

However, not all Netflix plans provide an equal user experience. Those trying to determine whether to subscribe to Netflix‘s Premium or Standard plan likely have questions about what key differences exist and which option may suit them best.

This comprehensive guide will arm you with everything you need to know about Netflix‘s Premium and Standard plans so you can determine the superior choice for your household.

Key Differences at a Glance

Before diving deeper, here is a high-level overview of how Netflix‘s Premium and Standard plans compare across some of the most important factors:

Feature Premium Plan Standard Plan
Monthly Cost $19.99 $15.49
Video Quality Ultra HD 4K + HDR Full HD 1080p
Concurrent Streams Up to 4 devices Up to 2 devices
Devices for Downloads Up to 6 devices Up to 2 devices
Audio Quality Spatial Audio Standard

As shown above, the Premium subscription unlocks higher quality video/audio, support for more concurrent streams, and increased downloading flexibility. However, these enhanced features come at a higher $19.99 monthly cost verses $15.49 for the Standard plan.

Later in this guide we will explore exactly how meaningful these differences are to help you decide which option may be a better match. First, let‘s take a closer look at each core feature.

Video Quality Comparison

One of the biggest distinguishes between the Premium and Standard plans centers around video quality.

Netflix‘s Premium subscription unlocks streaming in Ultra HD 4K resolution along with support for advanced HDR (High Dynamic Range) formatting for brighter colors and increased contrast. This results in an unmatched level of picture detail and visual vibrancy compared to lower quality streams.

In contrast, Netflix‘s Standard plan tops out at a Full HD 1080p resolution stream lacking HDR support. Still a solid level of video quality, but not nearly as pristine and life-like as 4K HDR content.

To quantify the difference, streaming Ultra HD 4K video provides over 8 million pixels per frame while Full HD 1080p serves up just over 2 million pixels per frame. That‘s nearly 4x as much visual detail!

Of course to benefit from 4K streaming, two key requirements must be met:

  1. You need an internet connection fast enough to support it – Netflix recommends minimum speeds of 25 Mbps for smooth 4K streaming.

  2. You need a 4K compatible playback device – either a 4K smart TV, 4K streaming device (Roku, Firestick, etc.), or 4K computer monitor.

If your household lacks either of the above, the Standard plan‘s Full HD streaming will still appear excellent on most modern HDTVs and devices. Just don‘t expect the same level of pristine image clarity experienced with 4K HDR content.

Number of Concurrent Streams

In today‘s world, a single Netflix account is often shared across family members spread throughout a household. Being able to stream different shows or movies simultaneously thus becomes highly valued.

Here as well there are noticeable limits between plan tiers:

  • Premium – up to 4 concurrent streams at once
  • Standard – up to 2 concurrent streams

Netflix enforces these stream limits based on the number simultaneous streams occurring from a given account. So if four household members wish to stream different content to their devices concurrently, the Premium plan is required to avoid interruptions.

The Standard plan suits smaller households fine, but could pose frustrations anytime more than two concurrent viewers wish to stream. Upgrading to the Premium tier alleviates this entirely for larger families or roommate situations.

Number of Devices Supporting Downloads

Today‘s active lifestyles mean people are consuming content during commutes, flights, and other situations with limited internet connectivity. This drove Netflix to enable users to download select movies and shows for offline viewing.

Again the Premium and Standard tiers differ here:

  • Premium – download to up to 6 devices
  • Standard – download to up to 2 devices

Frequent travelers or people juggling multiple devices will find the Premium plan‘s 6 device downloading limit far easier to manage. But casual users that only need to download shows to a phone or tablet on the go may be fine with the Standard plan‘s 2 device constraint.

Do keep in mind that the actual content available for download varies since certain studios/networks prohibit this capability entirely. So neither plan can unlock offline viewing for 100% of Netflix‘s catalog.

Audio Quality Differences

Beyond better video quality, Netflix‘s Premium tier also delivers a superior listening experience thanks to support for spatial audio technologies like Dolby Atmos.

This enables a fully immersive audio environment where sound effects and musical scores come at you from all directions, not just your TV‘s built-in speakers. Cars racing by, helicopters overhead, or conversations happening behind your viewing position all occur in a much more lifelike manner.

Netflix‘s Standard plan lacks spatial audio support, constraining your audio experience to a more basic stereo presentation. Good enough for casual viewing but far less cinematic.

To enable spatial audio from Netflix, you need audio equipment capable of decoding surround sound formats – either a full home theater audio system or quality headphones/soundbar. You also need content mixed specifically for spatial audio, which Netflix calls out with a "Dolby Atmos" tag.

Plan Pricing

Of course, enhanced features come at a price – quite literally when comparing Netflix‘s Premium and Standard plans!

As of August 2022, here is how US pricing breaks down:

  • Premium – $19.99 per month
  • Standard – $15.49 per month

That equates to nearly a $4.50 monthly difference or $54 yearly difference between plans. Family households opting for Premium would obviously pay even more since you cannot mix Premium and Standard within a single Netflix account.

On the flip side, many savvy subscribers take advantage of Netflix gift cards that effectively shave 10-20% off these prices when purchased at wholesale retailers.

For those highly budget conscious, I would also be remiss not to mention Netflix‘s Basic with Ads plan launching in early 2023. Priced at just $6.99 monthly, this tier inserts advertisements but still provides a solid SD quality stream.

Which Devices Are Supported?

When it comes to device compatibility, I‘m pleased to report that you can stream Netflix on pretty much any modern platform regardless of choosing their Premium or Standard plan. This includes:

Smart TVs – from major brands like LG, Sony, Samsung, Vizio plus budget models like TCL/Hisense too

Smartphones & Tablets – Android and iOS devices alike

Game Consoles – PlayStation, Xbox

Streaming Devices – Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV

Web Browsers – Chrome, Safari, Firefox, etc.

The one caveat would again be that accessing Netflix‘s Premium 4K streams requires having an app or browser on the playback device that supports this higher resolution and the necessary DRM (digital rights management). But for the vast majority of current consumer devices, this is a non-issue.

Content Library Availability

Lastly, many wonder whether Netflix restricts access to any content based on Premium vs Standard subscription status.

I‘m happy to confirm that both plans provide 100% equal access to Netflix‘s full content catalog spanning many thousands of movies, shows, documentaries and Netflix originals.

The only "exclusive" content sorted by subscription tier comes down to available resolution. As discussed earlier, 4K streams are limited to Premium subscribers given the technical delivery requirements.

But whether you are streaming in HD or SD quality, you still get to pick from Netflix‘s entire line-up of programming. Unlike some competitors, Netflix does not silo or holdback specific content based on plan status.

Key Takeaways – Premium vs Standard

To recap the key differences:

  • Video Quality – Premium enables 4K resolution + HDR while Standard tops out at Full HD
  • Concurrent Streams – Premium allows 4 simultaneous streams, Standard only 2
  • Devices for Downloads – 6 devices can store offline content on Premium, just 2 on Standard
  • Audio Quality – Premium unlocks spatial audio for surround sound effects
  • Pricing – Premium runs $4.50/month higher at $19.99/month vs $15.49 on Standard
  • Device Availability – Both plans are fully supported across popular smart TVs, mobile devices, consoles and streaming platforms
  • Content Library Access – All plans provide 100% equal access, the only exclusivity is resolution

Which Plan Is Right For You?

So looking at the above comparison, which Netflix plan should you choose? Here are my recommendations:

Premium Is Best For…

  • Households with 3+ simultaneous viewers
  • Viewers with 4K TVs reliant on the sharpest picture
  • Cinephiles wanting spatial audio‘s surround sound experience
  • Heavy travelers who download lots of content across multiple devices

Standard Suits Most…

  • Cost-conscious subscribers who still value solid HD quality
  • Smaller 1-2 person households unlikely to have concurrent streaming needs
  • Mobile-first viewers relying more on tablets/phones over big screens
  • Those wanting downloads on 1 primary smartphone for commutes

Ultimately, each household‘s needs are unique. Evaluate your priorities around streaming quality, simultaneous viewing, device usage models, and budget trade-offs.

In closing, I hope this detailed side-by-side breakdown gives you the confidence to elect the optimal Netflix plan for your home viewing needs. With knowledge of the precise differences between Standard and Premium in hand, the choice is clear!