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Netflix stops offering cheap “basic” plan in Canada

A smart television set running the Netflix application.
A smart television set running the Netflix application. (Stock image via Pixabay, Graphic by The Desk)

Streaming giant Netflix has quietly dropped its cheapest ad-free plan in Canada, a move that is almost certainly intended to push more frugal TV viewers toward the service’s budget, ad-lite tier.

The “basic” plan, which cost $10 (U.S. $7.60) per month, has been eliminated. Now, budget-conscious streamers will have to pay $6 (U.S. $4.50) per month if they want cheap access to Netflix, but it will come at the cost of having to sit through advertisements.

The cheapest commercial-free tier of Netflix now costs $16.50 (U.S. $12.50) per month, and allows streamers to watch content on two devices at once. An ultra-premium tier costs $21 (U.S. $16) per month and bumps the simultaneous stream limit to four while also unlocking support for ultra-high definition (UHD/4K) video.

The changes were first spotted by BlogTO, a website that covers local news and culture in Toronto. It was later confirmed by the tech blog TechCrunch, which found a note on Netflix’s support page for Canadian subscribers that affirmed the move.

“The Basic plan is no longer available for new or rejoining members,” the note read. “If you are currently on the Basic plan, you can remain on this plan until you change plans or cancel your account.”

The shuffle comes as Netflix tries to generate more revenue from its streamers after spending billions of dollars on content and finding itself with very few global hits. Netflix has also faced mounting pressure from investors as competition from other companies like Amazon, Disney, Paramount Global and Comcast’s NBC Universal has increased over the last few years.

In the United States, Netflix still offers a “basic” tier of service, but it isn’t advertised to customers who try to sign up online. Instead, customers have to click a drop-down that reads “See all plans” before the “basic” option is visible.

Netflix frequently tests new features or restrictions in some regions before a broader rollout, though some experiments never make it beyond the test phase. One that did is a recent crackdown on password-sharing that started in some Latin American countries before eventually coming to other regions where Netflix operates. The company began booting freeloaders from its service in the United States last month.

As of April, Netflix counted more than 232.5 million paying subscribers around the world, which helped it bring over $8.1 billion in revenue during the first three months of the year.