Are ad-supported tiers too much temptation for Netflix or Prime Video to resist?


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A few months ago, the internet had a mild freak out when Netflix started showing users commercials for other video content between episodes. Although Netflix described it as a small-scale experiment — the ads just promoted other Netflix shows — some users took to Twitter to announce that if Netflix began running ads they would cancel their service.

Viewers who enjoy Netflix’s programming urged the company to leave well enough alone. Many feared that the area of ad-free streaming on Netflix, and for that matter videos on Amazon Prime, was coming to a close.

Though some of the criticism was overwrought, there was a precedent for such fears: Forty or so years ago, consumers began paying for cable TV, in part to enjoy ad-free programming. But the lure of revenues proved too strong for most. Although HBO and Showtime have remained ad-free all of this time, the vast majority of cable networks haven’t.

That may prove to be the case with Netflix and Amazon too. Both could offset the huge expense of creating new programming with ads while also growing their subscriber base. Following Hulu’s lead, the streaming services could offer a free version with ads as an alternative to the premium paid version.


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