More Than a Year After Launch, Netflix’s Ad Plan Still Missing Several Popular Movies and Shows – Variety

By Todd Spangler
NY Digital Editor
Netflix says its ad-supported plan includes “the vast majority” of TV shows and movies available on the standard no-ads tiers — but more than a year after the streamer introduced the cheaper option, several popular titles remain unavailable to customers with the ad plan.
Most recently, Netflix customers noticed that Eli Roth’s horror film “Thanksgiving” (pictured above), added Feb. 17 for subscribers on ad-free tiers, is unavailable on the ad plan. The service notes that the slasher pic — currently at the No. 3 spot on Netflix’s top 10 movies in the U.S. — is not available to members on the ad plan because of licensing restrictions.

“While the vast majority of TV shows and movies are available on an ad-supported plan, a small number are not due to licensing restrictions,” the streamer says in an article on its help site. “These titles will appear with a lock icon when you search or browse Netflix.”

Ahead of Netflix’s November 2022 launch of the ad tier in 12 markets, the company said as much as 10% of the overall catalog would be unavailable on the plan depending on region. Last July, it said the ad-supported plan had hit 95% content parity globally based on viewing.
“Thanksgiving” is distributed by Sony Pictures Entertainment’s TriStar Pictures — and it appears that the studio’s movie output deal with Netflix excludes titles from ad-based viewing. Other Sony movies unavailable on Netflix’s U.S. ad plan include animated hit “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” “No Hard Feelings,” the R-rated comedy starring Jennifer Lawrence, Tom Hanks-starrer “A Man Called Otto,” John Singleton’s “Boyz N the Hood,” “Gran Turismo,” “Dumb Money,” “Morbius” starring Jared Leto, thriller-comedy “Bullet Train” starring Brad Pitt, “13 Going on 30” starring Jennifer Garner, biopic “Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” “Whiplash” starring Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons, “Equalizer 3” starring Denzel Washington.
Meanwhile, TV series currently unavailable to Netflix’s ad-supported members in the U.S. include AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” “Peaky Blinders” starring Cillian Murphy, “The Tourist” thriller starring Jamie Dornan, DreamWorks Animation shows including “Dinotrux,” “Dragons: Race to the Edge,” “Voltron: Legendary Defender” and “Home: Adventures with Tip & Oh,” and “House of Cards,” the landmark Netflix original series from MRC.
Of course, thousands of Netflix original and licensed titles are available on the ad plan. In December 2022, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos said the company would work to renegotiate license agreements where possible to bring more movies and shows to the ad tier. However, he noted, the content lineup for the ad plan would not be “complete parity but near parity.”

In the U.S., Netflix’s Standard With Ads plan is priced at $6.99/month, less than half the cost of the Standard ad-free tier at $15.49/month. In the fourth quarter of 2023, Netflix ad-tier members grew almost 70% compared with the prior quarter, according to the company, but it didn’t break out numbers. At the Variety Entertainment Summit at CES 2024, Netflix president of advertising Amy Reinhard said the company had more than 23 million active monthly users on ad plans worldwide.
To spur sign-ups to the ad-supported plan, Netflix last month said it will fully discontinue the entry-level Basic plan without ads in certain markets starting in Q2 in the U.K. and Canada.
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