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Netflix is exploring lower-priced, ad-supported plans after years of resisting

In this photo illustration the Netflix logo in the App Store seen displayed on a smartphone screen.

Rafael Henrique | SOPA Images | LightRocket | Getty Images

After years of resisting advertisements on its streaming service, Netflix is ​​now “open” to offering lower priced tiers with ads, co-CEO Reed Hastings said Tuesday.

Hastings has long been opposed to adding commercials or other promotions to the platform but said during the company’s pre-recorded earnings conference call that it “makes a lot of sense” to offer customers a cheaper option.

“Those who have followed Netflix know that I have been against the complexity of advertising and a big fan of the simplicity of subscription,” Hastings added. “But as much as I’m a fan of that, I’m a bigger fan of consumer choice and allowing consumers who would like to have a lower price and are advertising tolerant to get what they want makes a lot of sense.”

The option likely would not be available on the service for a year or two, Hastings said. A new ad-supported tier has a lot of profit potential for Netflix, which just reported its first subscriber loss in more than a decade Tuesday.

Netflix cited growing competition from recent streaming launches by traditional entertainment companies, as well as rampant password sharing, inflation and the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine for the recent stall in paid subscriptions.

In an effort to lure more subscribers, Netflix has increased its content spend, particularly on originals. To pay for it, it’s hiked prices of its service. The company said those price changes are helping to bolster revenue, but were partially responsible for a loss of 600,000 subscribers in the US and Canada during the most recent quarter.

A lower tier option that includes advertisements could keep some price-conscious consumers with the service and provide Netflix with a different avenue to garner funds.

“It’s pretty clear that it’s working for Hulu. Disney is doing it. HBO did it,” Hastings said. “I do not think we have a lot of doubt that it works.”

This is a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.

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