Cheaper subscriptions with advertisements? No more binge-watching?

Students react to Netflix changes

Cheaper subscriptions with advertisements? No more binge-watching?

Image credit: Pixabay

Narim J. (’26)

What would your reaction be if your favourite platform suddenly started to change policies that had been there for a long period of time? Or, added something new that might affect you in some way? 

This is what is happening currently with commonly used media streaming platforms. Netflix is widely spread around the world and it is definitely dominating media platforms. For example, according to Comparitech, about 220 million subscribers as of September 2022, were subscribed to Netflix, making Netflix the most used streaming platform in the world. 

Narim J. (’26)

So what are the reasons for this popularity? Why do some people prefer Netflix over other services? A survey was sent out to 75 high school students from the International School of Sacred Heart. Ninety percent of 75 students who took this survey subscribed to Netflix. According to the chart on the left, we can see that people are using Netflix for different reasons. The main two reasons were shows to binge-watch and a variety of media to watch. However, like many companies, Netflix, is going through significant changes in its policies. What’s more is that one of the changes includes changing something which is the main reason 43.5% of students use Netflix: people like to binge-watch TV shows. 

So, what are the possible policy changes happening on Netflix? Furthermore, what are the reactions of the users?

To start with, Netflix has recently added a subscription option that includes advertisements while using Netflix. This allows people who could not afford the original prices to consider subscribing to Netflix with cheaper prices, which can lead to an increasing number of subscribers for Netflix. The ad-supported plan will cost about 790 yen per month,  while the basic subscription will cost about 990 yen. Furthermore, watching advertisements is not everything the ad-supported plan contains. It will also limit some movies and TV-shows subscribers can watch on Netflix, while a basic subscription has unlimited movies and TV shows. 

And there are more changes to come. 

Which way do you prefer? Releasing TV shows’ episodes all at once, or releasing them weekly? If episodes are released all at once, people can finish watching them at once, without having to wait for the next one. On the other hand, if episodes are released weekly, people can take time to ‘digest’ the show. Although weekly releases are entertaining in many ways, Netflix was famous for releasing its show all at once. Many people have had the experience of spending the whole night watching a show because they could not wait until another day to see what was going to happen next. But, what would happen if Netflix ceased to release all the episodes of a TV show at once? According to Collider, a website about entertainment news and reviews, Netflix is considering a one-episode-per-week release for shows. Whether this is good news or bad news, depends on the person. However, while this certainly disrupts a style of binge-watching, it could be more advantageous for Netflix. 

Narim J. (’26)

Of the 75 students surveyed 65.9% of the students said that the changes would not directly affect them. Of course, there were a lot of different reasons why it did not affect their subscription to Netflix. The most common reason was that there are no alternatives for the content shared on Netflix, showing how strong this company is in the area of media platforms. However, about a quarter of the responses stated that those changes might influence their future decisions to keep their subscription to Netflix. One possible reason for this outcome is that about 43.5% answered that the main reason for using Netflix was to binge-watch shows they liked. If this feature goes away, some people might no longer have any reasons to be subscribed to Netflix. 

Although Netflix was not the first platform to introduce binge-watching, it was Netflix that started the trend of binge-watching, creating one of the big differences between Netflix and other streaming platforms except for the content. This was one of the factors that allowed Netflix to seize the throne of media streaming platforms. However, if Netflix continues the path of erasing what made them distinct from other platforms, customers may lose one of the primary reasons they subscribe to Netflix. Furthermore, it is not that Netflix does not have any other competitors chasing them. For instance, according to Comparitech, the second most used media platform was Amazon Prime, with their users about 200 million subscribers, 20 million fewer than Netflix. 

The changes Netflix is making are not all bad. Netflix is offering a cheaper version of the subscription which gives people who were reluctant to subscribe to Netflix, due to its price, a chance to subscribe to Netflix. Ad-supported version costs 790 yen per month and 9,480 yen per year. In contrast, the basic version costs 990 yen per month and 11,880 yen per year. While the standard version costs 1,490 yen per month and 17,880 yen per year. Offering a cheaper version could give more people opportunities to be subscribed to Netflix. However, this might bring controversy as some might argue that they should not be watching any advertisements while watching a show when they are paying for it. Furthermore, Netflix has been increasing the subscription price little by little, which seems a furtive way of pressuring people into getting a cheaper version, where they will be watching advertisements. Customers will have to think of this as a ‘cost’ of paying less. 

These changes, releasing one episode per week, and providing cheaper subscriptions with advertisements, will have both negative and positive impacts on the company. Although some subscribers will be satisfied with the policy changes, others might not be. If this is the case, with other media streaming platforms slowly catching up to Netflix, the company should find a policy that most of its users are satisfied with.