At first glance, subscribers opting in for Netflix’s new lower-priced $6.99 ad tier appear to enjoy the same selection as $15.49 ad-free users, with Stranger Things, The Crown, and others on the menu. But the two libraries aren’t identical.
According to Deadline, licensing restrictions are to blame for the service blocking several popular programs from the new Basic With Ads interface, including House of Cards, Arrested Development, Peaky Blinders, New Girl, The Sinner, The Good Place, and Friday Night Lights. Because the shows are owned by production companies or studios other than Netflix, it’s likely that contractual agreements need to be revised to reflect the ad revenue now being generated.
Roughly 5 percent to 10 percent of Netflix’s titles are “blocked” in the ad tier, though it won’t be immediately apparent to users, who might still see them in searches. If the program or movie isn’t available, a red padlock icon will appear on the top right-hand corner.
Why bother showing the restricted listings? Probably so Netflix can encourage you to upgrade your plan and watch them. (Their Basic level is $9.99 with lower-resolution video.)
The Basic With Ads option launched Thursday with 4 to 5 minutes of commercials per hour. Jay Peters of The Verge wrote that the number of ads can vary with each selection, as well as when in the program they appear. Peters also noted that four of the top 10 movies on the service were padlocked.