Here are the best ad-supported streaming plans for people on a budget

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When Netflix first started its streaming movie and TV show business, the idea was that subscribers would not have to deal with commercials in exchange for paying a monthly fee. Other streaming services like Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV Plus, HBO Max, and Disney Plus all launched with the same business model. However, things have changed and now it appears people will pay for ad-supported streaming plans, but only if they can save a bit of money compared to a completely ad-free experience.

In this article, we will go over the various ad-supported streaming plans that are available. We will also note the upcoming plans that will join this growing trend.

Netflix

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Netflix is the oldest of the premium streaming services, and until now, it has only had ad-free plans to purchase. In early November, 12 of Netflix’s markets will add a new plan, Basic With Ads, that will give subscribers access to nearly all of the service’s content for a cheaper price.

Basic with Ads will be available in Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States, with plans to expand to more markets in the near future. Due to licensing deals with certain third-party studios, Basic with Ads subscribers won’t be able to watch between 5% and 10% of Netflix’s library at first, although that gap will get smaller as the streaming giant makes new deals.

  • Price: $6.99 a month
  • Amount of ads per hour: Between four to five minutes
  • Number of concurrent streams: One
  • Video resolution: Up to 720p
  • Support for downloads to mobile devices: No
  • Free trial: No

Netflix icon

Netflix

Netflix is still the leading premium streaming service, with over 200 million worldwide subscribers. It offers thousands of movies and TV shows to binge watch, including its always growing list of original films and series, including Stranger Things, The Witcher, Bridgerton, and many more.

Hulu

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Many people may not remember that Hulu first started as a completely free ad-supported service in 2007. It let users watch new TV episodes the day after they aired, with commercials. In 2010, the company launched Hulu Plus, which was still ad-supported but included an expanded library of content. Now the service is just known as Hulu, and it has two main plans. One gets rid of ads (with a few small exceptions) for $14.99, but the ad-supported streaming plan is much cheaper at $7.99 a month. College students can get an even bigger discount on the Hulu Ads plan for just $1.99 per month.

  • Price: $7.99 a month or $79.99 a year
  • Amount of ads per hour: Between 12 to 14 minutes
  • Number of concurrent streams: Two
  • Video resolution: Up to 4K
  • Support for downloads to mobile devices: No
  • Free trial: 30 days

Hulu Logo

Hulu

Hulu offers not only thousands of movies and TV shows to stream, it also has original shows and films like The Handmaid’s Tale. You can upgrade to Hulu Plus Live TV to get live channels, including your local stations.

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Hulu Student Discount

HBO Max

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The Warner Bros-owned streaming service started out as a completely ad-free experience. However, it quickly launched an ad-supported plan in order to gain more users. The price for the ad-based plan is very high at $9.99 a month. The good news is that any HBO-based shows and movies, which were made with no commercials in mind, are still ad-free when you watch them on the ad-based plan. However, video resolution is cut down to 1080p and there’s no support for offline downloads.

  • Price: $9.99 a month or $99.99 a year
  • Amount of ads per hour: Between 3 to 4 minutes
  • Number of concurrent streams: Two
  • Video resolution: Up to 1080p
  • Support for downloads to mobile devices: No
  • Free trial: No

HBO Max logo

HBO Max

HBO Max is your home for Warner Bros-made movies and TV shows like The Lord of the Rings, the DC Comics superheroes, and more. It’s also the home for new and original movies and shows available nowhere else.

Peacock

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Peacock is a bit different than the other services on this list. It has two ad-based plans. One is completely free to access and offers lots of older TV shows and movies to download. The other costs just $4.99 a month and offers access to the entire Peacock content library, plus all of Peacock’s original content and live NBC access.

  • Price: Free/$4.99 a month or $49.99 a year
  • Amount of ads per hour: About 5 minutes
  • Number of concurrent streams: Three
  • Video resolution: Up to 1080p
  • Support for downloads to mobile devices: No
  • Free trial: 7 days

Peacock logo large

Peacock

NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming service offers a lot of great movies and TV shows to stream on demand, along with live news and sports. Best of all, you can watch lots of its content for free, or watch all of it with a paid subscription starting at just $4.99 a month.

Paramount Plus

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Paramount Plus also has a pretty cheap ad-supported streaming plan. It costs just $4.99 a month and offers all the content available on the streamer. The only exception is that it does not offer live streaming of your local CBS TV station, which is included in the ad-free plan. If you are a US college student, you can get a 25% discount on the ad-based plan, which makes it even better.

  • Price: $4.99 a month or $49.99 a year
  • Amount of ads per hour: Around 5 minutes
  • Number of concurrent streams: Three
  • Video resolution: Up to 4K
  • Support for downloads to mobile devices: No
  • Free trial: 7 days

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Paramount Plus

Paramount Plus includes thousands of movies and TV shows from CBS, Showtime, and Paramount Pictures. It also includes new and original movies like The Good Fight, Infinite, and more.

Discovery Plus

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Discovery Plus is a recent addition to the streaming services competition. It offers thousands of shows and movies that mostly come from the Discovery family of cable TV networks. Their ad-supported streaming plan is pretty cheap at just $4.99 a month, and the number of ads on the service is not that bad. Best of all, other than the price and ads, there’s no difference between the ad-based and no-ads versions of Discovery Plus

  • Price: $4.99 a month or $49.99 a year
  • Amount of ads per hour: Around 3 minutes per hour
  • Number of concurrent streams: Four
  • Video resolution: Up to 4K
  • Support for downloads to mobile devices: No
  • Free trial: 7 days

Discovery Plus

Discovery Plus

The streaming service offers on-demand TV shows from the Discovery lineup of non-scripted TV channels, plus exclusive shows.

Disney Plus (December 8)

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More than three years after launching, Disney Plus will start offering an ad-based subscription plan on December 8, 2022. It will just be available in the US for now but will likely expand to more markets in 2023. The price for the plan will be $7.99 a month or $79.99 a year, which is the current price for the ad-free plan, which will see a price increase to $10.99 a month on that date. The new ad-based plan won’t include ads for any kids’ content, however.

  • Price: $7.99 a month or $79.99 a year
  • Amount of ads per hour: Around 5 minutes
  • Number of concurrent streams: Two
  • Video resolution: Up to 1080p
  • Support for downloads to mobile devices: No
  • Free trial: No

The Disney Plus logo.

Disney Plus

Disney Plus offers thousands of TV episodes and movies from across the Disney library, including its Pixar, Star Wars, and Marvel shows and films, along with exclusive TV series and movies.

Free ad-supported streaming services

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While there are plenty of ad-supported streaming services that you have to pay money to get, there’s a growing number of streaming services that run ads and are completely free to access. This category even has an acronym: FAST (Free Ad-Supported Streaming TV). While these kinds of services are still mostly seen as being on the lower end of the streaming business in terms of features and content, they are gaining more and more of an audience. Some of them have even ventured into original content.

We have features on several of the biggest names in the FAST business if you want to learn more about them:

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