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Netflix: Pricing, content, and everything else you need to know
Though it has much stiffer competition than it once did, Netflix is still the indisputable king of streaming. The company, which launched more than 20 years ago, has since transformed its business model completely to match the ever-changing tech landscape.
If you’re new to the platform or just want to learn more about how it all works, you’ve come to the right place. In this extensive guide to the world’s largest premium streaming platform, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Netflix. Want to get started? Click the button below to sign up!
What is Netflix?
Netflix is the world’s leading premium media streaming platform, hosting thousands of films and TV series in nearly 200 countries and territories.
Initially, a mail-order DVD rental service launched in 1997, the company quickly dominated the streaming sphere when it launched its subscription video-on-demand service a decade later in 2007, the same year that Hulu launched.
The field has become quite a bit more crowded since then, and Netflix now competes with the likes of Amazon Prime Video, Max, Disney Plus, Apple TV Plus, and many more, including niche streamers like The Criterion Channel and Shudder.
How much does Netflix cost?
Netflix pricing has become one of its most controversial features, with frequent price hikes to cover the cost of new Netflix Originals and licensing deals. The cheapest plan in the US is the new Standard with Ads at $6.99 a month, with four to five minutes of ads per hour, and two 1080p resolution streams. The ad-free Basic plan, with 720p resolution and just one stream, has been phased out but it may still be available for $11.99 for existing subscribers.
The standard plan bumps this up to HD quality and two streams for $15.49 a month, and the most expensive premium plan features full 4K quality and four streams for $19.99 a month.
All plans allow you to download content to view offline, although the number of devices you can download is the same as the number of simultaneous streams. So on the standard plan, for example, you can only download content to two devices.
- Standard with Ads: $6.99 per month
Two streams in 1080p quality, with ads
- Standard: $15.49 per month
Two streams in 1080p HD quality
- Premium: $22.99 per month
Four streams in HD or UHD quality (if available)
Note that Netflix’s oldest plans, which shipped physical media to your home, are no longer available.
The streaming service, however, is available in most of the world. Prices and selection will vary depending on where you sign up to watch. When you travel, certain titles you are used to accessing in the US won’t necessarily be available abroad, while new titles not available at home may show up.
Share Netflix outside your household
While Netflix has cracked down on sharing accounts between households, the service does allow you to pay to add members to your account. This ended one of the few remaining ways to get Netflix for free.
Extra members get their own standalone accounts with their own passwords, but they’re billed through your account at a discounted rate of $7.99 per extra member.
This feature is only available to Standard and Premium subscribers, who can only add up to one or two extra members, respectively.
Netflix connection requirements and data usage
Many consumers still have data caps and low bandwidth plans, so data usage on Netflix can be a significant concern. Whether you’re connected to Netflix on a mobile phone, laptop, or smart TV, it could hinder the streaming experience without a good connection.
Netflix lists the lowest possible connection at .5 Mbps, but the recommended speed for a decent streaming experience is 1.5 Mbps. You can see a complete list of recommended internet speeds for Netflix below, and use this guide to learn how to do a Netflix speed test.
- .5 Mbps — Minimum required speed.
- 1.5 Mbps — Recommended speed.
- 3.0 Mbps — Recommended speed for SD and 720p streaming.
- 5.0 Mbps — Recommended speed for Full HD streaming.
- 15 Mbps — Recommended speed for UHD (4K) streaming.
Data consumption is also a concern for many, so we’ve run some tests to see just how much data Netflix uses. You can see the results in the table below or read more analysis in this article, where you’ll also find tips on how to reduce Netflix data consumption.
|Resolution||Netflix estimates||Our measurements|
300MB per hour
200-350MB per hour
700MB per hour
650MB-750MB per hour
3GB per hour
2.8GB-3.3GB per hour
4.2GB per hour
4K (with and without HDR)
7GB per hour
6.5GB-11.5GB per hour
What devices does Netflix support?
Netflix supports just about any device with a Wi-Fi connection. This includes PCs, smartphones, tablets, most smart TVs, set-top boxes, Amazon Fire TV devices, Blu-ray players, and game consoles. It’s one of the most accessible streaming platforms out there, with more than a decade’s worth of integrations in popular tech.
The Netflix app works with Android, iOS, and Windows Phone devices. The latest Android app requires Android 5.0 (Lollipop) or higher, and for Apple devices, you’ll need iOS 5.0 or higher.
Netflix can also be cast to any compatible Chromecast device on older TVs, although it no longer supports AirPlay.
One of the most notable devices that Netflix doesn’t support is the Nintendo Switch. Given that both Hulu and YouTube are already available on the Switch, hopefully, it’s just a matter of time before it’s officially supported.
What are Netflix secret codes?
Netflix secret codes are a hidden feature that allows you to browse curated lists of movies and shows beyond what’s offered on the front page. For example, you can find lists of movies that are 90 minutes, anime horror titles, slapstick comedies, and any number of obscure genres.
Check out our full list of Netflix secret codes to find your new streaming obsession today.
Is Netflix worth it?
Netflix is the premier streaming service with an enormous content catalog, but it’s also one of the most expensive. With so many great competitors out there, it’s worth asking the question: Is Netflix worth it?
The answer for the vast majority of users is yes. The standard plan at $15.49 unlocks a truly game-changing amount of media to stream for casual streamers, although it’s much more expensive than other streamers. Netflix also has a cheaper Standard with Ads plan at $6.99 a month, but not all of the service’s content is included. However, it is a perfect plan to bring in users who can no longer afford the no-ads plans.
The answer gets a bit more complicated if you want to stream in 4K quality. Unless you plan on sharing the account with friends and family in the same household (up to four streams are allowed), the $22.99 a month price tag is pretty steep. This is especially true compared to other streaming services, which offer 4K quality at a much lower price. Disney Plus, Prime Video, and Apple TV Plus all offer 4K as part of their base plans, all of which cost less than half the price of Netflix Premium.
What the experts think
There’s no question about it: experts agree that Netflix is the streaming service to beat. With an enormous catalog that no other streaming service can hope to match (for now) and lots of must-watch originals, Netflix is one of the few streaming services that can completely replace your cable subscription.
However, being the top dog means everyone is gunning for you, and there are now a host of Netflix alternatives to choose from. Most of these compete on price, and if Netflix continues to bump the cost of its service, experts think it may start losing out on more budget-conscious consumers. Indeed, for the first quarter of 2022, the company admitted that it lost 200,000 subscribers, which is the first time it lost users in 10 years.
Since then the company has cracked down on account sharing, which has made a lot of users angry but increased subscriber numbers. Prices have also consistently increased year over year, so at some point, a cheaper alternative may eat Netflix’s lunch.
What is on Netflix?
While Netflix’s streaming options were originally all licensed titles that had originally aired elsewhere, the streamer has been developing its own shows and movies for more than a decade now.
When you look through options, you’ll find entire seasons of TV shows and a variety of movies, including those in-house and third-party shows and movies. The third-party titles are usually available for a limited time, with new titles added every month as old ones leave.
The best Netflix movies
Netflix has a massive catalog of original and licensed movies, but here’s a quick selection of our favorites to give you a taste:
- Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery — One of the most high-profile Netflix acquisitions of the last few years, the Knives Out sequel is one of two follow-ups to the 2019 whodunnit planned at the streamer.
- The Harder They Fall — This revisionist western is a stunning, gorgeous piece of western cinema, with a killer soundtrack and an all-star cast.
- Cam — A camgirl suddenly finds herself locked out of her accounts, and thus her livelihood. But soon she realizes a doppelganger is continuing to stream, posing as her and replacing her.
- Da 5 Bloods — Spike Lee directs this war film about veterans returning to Vietnam, in search of buried treasure they left behind during the war.
- Roma — A big winner at the Oscars, this 2018 film from director Alfonso Cuarón follows a family in Mexico City in the 1970s.
- Marriage Story — A portrait of divorce, this Academy Award-winning film is a thoughtful look at the complexities of marriage and separation.
For more options, check out our guide to the best movies on Netflix.
The best Netflix shows
Netflix is once again home to countless excellent original and licensed shows, but here are a few of our favorites to get you started:
- Stranger Things — Netflix’s flagship show, Stranger Things draws on the works of Stephen King, Steven Spielberg, John Carpenter, and more. It’s a terrific genre show full of surprises and terrific action.
- GLOW — A wonderful sports drama and comedy, GLOW is brimming with terrific performances and compelling characters, all set to a killer 80s soundtrack.
- The Crown — While The Crown has drawn criticism for its fictionalized depictions of the Royals, it offers an often unvarnished look at the family’s past, providing context for much recent political history.
- The OA — A trippy science-fiction drama, The OA is a dark mystery that travels across realities. It was sadly canceled after two brilliant seasons on Netflix.
- Sex Education — The son of a sex therapist sets off a revolution at his school when he starts selling advice to his classmates in this hilarious, smart comedy.
- Ozark — A dark crime family saga, Ozark sees the Birds relocating to the Ozarks when husband and father Marty gets in trouble laundering drug money in Chicago. Soon, Marty’s back to his old tricks in their new home.
The answer depends on which plan you have. The Standard and Standard with Ads plans each support two streams, while the Premium plan supports four.
Some content is available in 4K, but you will need a Premium subscription to stream it in 4K quality.
This depends on your plan. If you sign up for the Netflix Standard with Ads plan, you will see about four to five minutes of ads per hour. The other more expensive plans do not feature ads.
Yes, but Netflix will charge you $7.99 for each additional member outside of your household. If you have roommates or live with family, however, you can share your account with them as long as you’re under one roof.
The service has previously forbidden the use of VPNs, but some VPNs work with Netflix.