Netflix Will Lose Subscribers If It Starts Running Ads, Study Says

Introducing ads to the famously ad-free service could scare away millions of customers, new study finds

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Millions of streamers would bail on Netflix if the ad-free service suddenly introduced ads at its current prices, according to a new study shared by Hub Entertainment Research on Wednesday.

Turns out, 23% of respondents said they’d “definitely or probably” drop Netflix if the streaming giant started running ads without adjusting its fees — or the equivalent of 34 million customers, if that response held across Netflix’s 149 million global subscribers. (The Hub study included 1,765 American participants who have broadband and said they watched at least one hour of TV per week. The data was collected last month.)

Less than half of respondents — 41% — said they’d definitely keep their Netflix subscription, at their current price, with ads.

Netflix’s Basic plan, its cheapest option, costs $8.99 per month in the U.S. and comes with one non-HD stream. Its Standard plan costs $12.99 per month, and its Premium plan, which provides ultra HD streaming on four separate screens, costs $15.99 per month. Netflix has slightly more than 60 million subscribers in the U.S.

But the Hub study reinforced that everything has a price.

If Netflix introduced an ad-supported option that cost $3 less per month than their current plan, that’s where the shift happens, with 46% of respondents saying pick that option, compared to 44% of respondents that would stick with an ad-free plan (10% of respondents said they’d still drop Netflix entirely if it had ads).