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(Pocket-lint) - In a bid to turn around its declining subscriber numbers, Netflix plans to introduce an ad-supported streaming plan next year. It won't simply be offered at a cheaper price in exchange for serving up ads, according to a new report. It might also limit one key feature, which may make value-conscious consumers second-guess subscribing to the new tier. 

According to code spotted in the Netflix app by developer Steve Moser, and then later shared with Bloomberg, Netflix is considering limiting offline downloads to subscribers of its ad-free tiers. Currently, Netflix has three tiers: For $9.99 a month, you can watch standard definition content on one screen at a time; for $14.99 a month, you can watch in HD on two screens at a time; for $19.99, you can watch in 4K UHD with 4K on four screens at a time. 

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All three plans currently lack ads and support offline downloads. (To learn how to download movies or TV shows to watch offline later in the Netflix app, see Netflix's support hub here.)

Having said that, in announcing Q2 earnings, Netflix said it's aiming to launch its first ad-supported plan "around the early part of 2023". The streaming giant has not yet revealed pricing for the upcoming ad tier or what it might or might not feature at launch, but it has promised it will cost less than its most popular plan without any commercials: The standard package, which costs $14.99 per month in the US and allows two HD streams.

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Keep in mind, for the second quarter, Netflix revealed it dropped 970,000 subscribers worldwide. So, the news that its ad-supported tier is imminent was not surprising. "While it will take some time to grow our member base for the ad tier and the associated ad revenues, over the long run, we think advertising can enable substantial incremental membership (through lower prices) and profit growth (through ad revenues)", Netflix said in its earnings.

Netflix first revealed it planned to launch an ad-supported service in its Q1 report - when it also revealed it's cracking down on password-sharers.

Writing by Maggie Tillman.
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