As Netflix tests advertisements for its original content on its own streaming platform, users remain vehement that they do not want to see advertising during their streams, a poll conducted by Cordcutting.com has found.
In a survey of 2,000 self-identifying Netflix users, respondents overwhelmingly say that they’d rather pay more for Netflix than sit through ads on the service: 83 percent of users would choose a price hike over ads, while just 17 percent would rather see ads than pay more.
The fervor ebbs a bit when users are asked to put a price on their ad-free experience. The majority of respondents wanted to pay no more than two dollars more per month. That makes some sense, given that Netflix users are no fans of price hikes, either: back in 2015, Cordcutting.com polling found fierce opposition to price increases.
While paying more than a couple of extra bucks to avoid ads was a non-starter for many, respondents were adamant when asked if they would cancel their service over ads.
Two thirds of Netflix subscribers surveyed claimed they’d cancel service over ads. It strains credulity to imagine that all of these respondents would follow through on their threat, but the startling figure illustrates the anger Netflix is courting with its recent ad experimentation.
As extreme as these numbers may seem, they actually represent a slight softening toward ads on the part of Netflix’s user base: in June of 2016, a Cordcutting.com poll of Netflix subscribers found 90 percent preferred price hikes to ads and that 74 percent were willing to cancel their subscription if ads were run. The new poll advised respondents that the subject was “Netflix experimenting with ads for its original content,” so it is possible that the small gap in vitriol represents the difference in seeing Stranger Things trailers as opposed to ads for Tide.
Netflix has long been the default choice for streamers. In addition to arriving first on the scene, Netflix has maintained a gap in content hours over HBO and other major competitors. It has also never before had ads, a distinction that gave it an edge over Hulu, one of its earliest rivals. But maintaining all of these advantages while keeping subscription prices competitive isn’t easy.
Keeping a cost-effective edge in content hours means generating and promoting original content. But Netflix’s originals-focused strategy may cost it here, and it wouldn’t be the first time. Some observers blamed the company’s high-volume output, which included plenty of critical flops, for a second-quarter stumble that saw Netflix miss its subscriber growth goals and sparked a brief but spectacular dive in the company’s stock prices. And Cordcutting.com recently broke the story that Netflix’s decision to kill off its user reviews back in July may also have been influenced by its desire to boost its original content, which was facing increasing ire from user reviewers.
Now, Netflix is weighing the benefits of ceding its ad-free advantage to promote its original content. Cordcutting.com’s research suggests that Netflix will want to tread carefully. While the move might be unlikely to truly cost Netflix two-thirds of its subscriber base, it does raise the specter of a user exodus on some scale.
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