STORY: Netflix said Wednesday its ad-supporter tier has hit 40 million global monthly active users.

That's way up from 5 million a year earlier.

And it's a sign the firm's push to draw new users with the cheaper plan has paid off.

The jump comes at a time when streaming companies face tough competition.

Many have brought in bundles with their rivals to retain subscribers.

Netflix launched the ad-supported plan a year and a half ago.

Data from a leading research firm this week showed such an approach has drawn users.

It said the majority of gross subscriber additions for the streaming industry came from ad-supported plans for the first time in the fourth quarter.

Netflix also said it will launch an in-house advertising technology platform by the end of next year.

That's in a bid to offer clients new ways to buy ads and better engage with users.

Netflix's ad-tier plan costs $6.99 per month in the U.S., undercutting many rivals including Disney+.