Walt Disney has confirmed plans to bring advertisements to its streaming service, Disney+, which is the home of Pixar, Star Wars, The Simpsons, Marvel movies as well as the latest animation from Walt Disney Studios. This will take the form of a new ad-supported subscription tier, with the existing £7.99 a month subscription remaining advert-free. Unfortunately, it seems the ad-support subscription won’t be completely free. There’s no word on the new monthly cost yet, but Walt Disney says that it’ll have more information to share on pricing in the coming months.
Disney+ isn’t the first subscription service to introduce advertising to lower its monthly cost. Spotify offers a free subscription tier, which is supported by advertising, while ITV Hub tries to upset viewers with the ability to remove all adverts from its on-demand shows. Unlike Spotify and ITV Hub, it doesn’t seem like Disney+ will be available for free for those willing to watch some advertisements. However, a lower monthly price could tempt thousands more to the streaming service.
While each subscription service has a relatively low monthly cost – Netflix, BritBox and Prime Video all cost £5.99 a month, while Apple TV+ costs £4.99 a month – combined together to watch the exclusive series and movies offered by each app, your monthly bills can quickly spiral. A lower cost for Disney+ could tempt more people to sign-up. Indeed, Walt Disney hopes the new subscription tier will help its service achieve its loft target of 230-260 million subscribers by the end of the 2024 financial year.
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The advert-supported tier will be introduced in the United States before the end of this year, before rolling out internationally next year. Until then, Disney+ is only available at a single price point – £7.99 a month. It is possible to secure a discount when buying an annual subscription, which costs £79.90. That equates to around £6.65 a month.
“Expanding access to Disney+ to a broader audience at a lower price point is a win for everyone – consumers, advertisers, and our storytellers,” said Kareem Daniel, Chairman, Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution. “More consumers will be able to access our amazing content. Advertisers will be able to reach a wider audience, and our storytellers will be able to share their incredible work with more fans and families.”
Disney+ increased its subscription cost in the UK from £5.99 to £7.99 a month back in February 2021. This price hike coincided with the arrival of the Star sub-brand, which introduced a wealth of new shows and movies to the service. Targeted at a slightly older audience, Star brings together boxsets and films from 20th Century Fox and US-only streaming service Hulu. It recently saw the hit show Pam and Tommy and the critically acclaimed Dopesick.
As well as shows under the Star banner, Disney+ also brings together the animated classics from Walt Disney Studios, every film from Pixar Studios, all entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Star Wars saga. Exclusive boxsets set in both of these hugely-popular universes, like WandaVision and The Mandalorian, also air exclusively on Disney+. Elsewhere, Disney+ boasts every episode of The Simpsons and documentary shows and films from National Geographic, including the Academy Award-winning Free Solo and The Rescue from the same team, which launched earlier this year.
“Since its launch, advertisers have been clamouring for the opportunity to be part of Disney+ and not just because there’s a growing demand for more streaming inventory,” said Rita Ferro, President of Advertising for Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution. “Disney+ with advertising will offer marketers the most premium environment in streaming with our most beloved brands, Disney, Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel and National Geographic. I can’t wait to share more with advertisers at the Upfront.”
Express.co.uk will have more information about the change to Disney+ in the coming months, so stay tuned.