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Netflix is reportedly thinking about offering a free ad-based plan but not in the US

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Netflix remains the biggest premium streaming service in the world, but the company may be looking to get more revenue from ads in the future. Bloomberg is reporting, via unnamed sources, that the streaming service is considering offering a free plan that will be supported completely via advertising.

Netflix did experiment with a free ad-based service for mobile devices in Kenya in 2021, but that experiment ended in 2023. However, this latest report says that Netflix has been thinking about launching a free service in bigger markets where there are popular free TV networks. Germany and Japan were listed in the story as being two possible markets for such a free Netflix plan.

One place where the streaming service doesn't plan to include a free plan is the US. Bloomberg says that the majority of its subscribers based in the country have already signed up for one of its paid ad-based or ad-free plans.

However, launching a free service in other markets could allow people who can't afford to pay a way to access Netflix's growing number of original series and movies. The Bloomberg story points out that while Netflix is second only to Google YouTube in worldwide video streaming minutes, it's only in 10th place when it comes to generating revenues from streaming via advertising.

However, Netflix has been moving quickly to get those ad revenue numbers up, thanks in part to the fact that the ad-based plan is much cheaper compared to the ad-free plans the service currently has. In May, Netflix stated that 40 million active users watch the service via an ad-based plan worldwide. That's up from just five million active users a year ago.

While a completely free ad-based plan may not launch for a little while anywhere, the report that claims Netflix execs may be discussing it could be a signal that the streaming industry could rely less on subscriber numbers and more on ad revenues in the future. Right now, the only major streaming service that doesn't offer any ad-based plans is Apple TV +, and even that could change if this trend continues.

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