The Walt Disney Co. is hoping to beef up the subscriber base of its Disney Plus streaming service by adding cheaper, ad-filled options for potential customers.
Disney Plus is adding tiered bundles (opens in new tab), the cheapest being Disney Plus Basic, at $7.99 a month, an option that builds advertisements into the viewer experience. Currently, Disney Plus Premium subscribers don’t see ads. Other streaming services, including Peacock and Paramount Plus, also have streaming options that come at a discount if you opt for ads.
And just like Peacock and Paramount Plus, you'll have to sit through a handful of commercials — roughly a minute or minute-and-a-half. There’s no fast-forwarding in these ad-supported streaming services.
Disney says current Disney Plus Premium subscribers who are paying $10.99 a month or $109.99 a year and are happy with the service don’t have to do anything. Their service will continue, just as it is. Or, they could switch to the new Basic plan, with ads, costing $7.99 a month.
Disney Plus bundle options with ads:
- Disney Bundle Duo Basic: Disney Plus (with ads), Hulu (with ads), $9.99/month
- Disney Bundle Trio Basic: Disney Plus (with ads), Hulu (with ads), ESPN Plus (with ads), $12.99/month
- Hulu and Live TV: Hulu (with ads), Live TV, plus access to Disney+ (with ads) and ESPN+ (with ads), $69.99/month
- Hulu (no ads) and Live TV, Disney+ (no ads) and ESPN+ (with adds), $82.99/month
“With these new ad-supported offerings, we’re able to deliver greater flexibility for consumers to enjoy the full breadth and depth of incredible storytelling from The Walt Disney Company,” said Michael Paull, president of Direct to Consumer at Disney,
Disney Plus Basic and other ad-supported bundle subscribers will have access to the same movies, series, documentaries and more under the Disney flag, including Disney classics and current films, as well as the Marvel and Star Wars universes. That includes the award-winning Abbot Elementary, made-for-Disney Plus Star Wars series The Mandalorian (think Baby Yoda/Grogu) and Andor, and originals like The Old Man and Only Murders in the Building.
Disney’s move comes at a time when it’s seeing a stock slump and disappointing earnings and a shakeup at the top. This could be an elixir, some analysts say.
“Disney Plus' ad-supported tier is going to be a game changer for its subscriber and revenue growth, and considering Disney's slumping average-revenue-per-user growth and increasing DTC operating losses, its launch can't come soon enough," writes Third Bridge analyst Jamie Lumley. "Disney is in a better position than Netflix from an operational perspective because they already have a lot of advertisement technology and infrastructure in place through Hulu and ABC network channels."
Other streamers are also making important moves to build customer bases and seek revenue. As we reported, HBO Max is returning to Amazon Prime Video’s third-party streaming channels — as HBO Max owner Warner Bros. Discovery gets ready to roll out its Discovery Plus/HBO Max mashup streaming service next summer. Last summer, Warner Bros. Discovery slashed subscription prices on HBO Max.
Bob is a Senior Online Editor at Kiplinger.com. He has more than 40 years of experience in online, print and visual journalism. Bob has worked as an award-winning writer and editor in the Washington, D.C., market as well as at news organizations in New York, Michigan and California. Bob joined Kiplinger in 2016, bringing a wealth of expertise covering retail, entertainment, and money-saving trends and topics. He was one of the first journalists at a daily news organization to aggressively cover retail as a specialty, and has been lauded in the retail industry for his expertise. Bob has also been an adjunct and associate professor of print, online and visual journalism at Syracuse University and Ithaca College. He has a master’s degree from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and a bachelor’s degree in communications and theater from Hope College.
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