Netflix told us it was bringing ads to the streaming party in 2022, and it still hasn’t revealed exactly how, but reports are slowly trickling in. It’s kick-starting its embryonic ad business by attempting partnerships with streaming competitors Roku and Comcast, The Information reports — a heel turn given that CEO Reed Hastings called the ad business “hand-to-hand combat” two years ago. Partnering up may be cheaper than building a new business arm from scratch internally, but Netflix will also have to weather increased licensing costs; featuring shows and movies for ad-supported streaming will cost it about 20 percent more, according to The Information. And some of the ad placements it’s considering include “pre-roll ads, which run before a show starts,” and eventually ads on “program tiles on the home screen,” so good-bye to rows upon rows of content and episodes of The Circle uncannily bleeding into each other.
The reported plan sounds comparable to those on services like Amazon Prime Video and Hulu (and the Roku Channel and Comcast’s Peacock, for that matter) — but vastly different for a service focused for years on interruption-free, subscription-based binging. “We are still in the early days of deciding how to launch a lower-priced, ad-supported option, and no decisions have been made. So this is all just speculation at this point,” a Netflix spokesperson said. The company is rethinking everything from password sharing to how it green-lights shows as it recovers from its 72 percent stock nosedive, but the proposals underscore how much it’s banking on delivering that cheaper subscription tier in time for a holiday gift this year. It’s the thought that counts.