Disney Plus is far from the most expensive streaming subscription platform today. However, in the face of the rising prices of its competitors, and how it's expected to follow suit, Disney has announced something potentially game-changing.
In a press release, The Walt Disney Company announced that a cheaper Disney Plus will go live starting later this year. Unfortunately, the budget-oriented alternative comes at what many other subscription services have avoided at all costs - using ads to offset the cost. Disney confirmed that the ad-supporting variant of Disney+ will arrive in the United States first before hitting international audiences starting in 2023 and beyond.
Earlier this year, Netflix confirmed that it was raising subscription costs in the United States, which sent the streaming platform's subscriber numbers tumbling. On the other hand, Disney+ was one of the biggest benefactors. Now that Disney has smelled blood, it appears that the House of Mouse isn't keen on losing subscribers soon by making it easier for people to get on the platform.
Disney's Media and Entertainment Distribution chairman Kareem Daniel sees this move as a win-win for all parties involved. In a statement accompanying the announcement, Daniel said that "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."
Unfortunately, Disney did not confirm when exactly the "cheaper" subscription will be released in the United States and other markets. However, most are assuming that it will still include access to Disney Plus Star and other branded content in non-US markets. Also, in terms of cost, there are rumblings that the introduction of a lower-tier package is Disney's way of easing in a slight price increase for the regular subscription.
While we're on the topic of speculating, it will be interesting to see how Disney will price the ads-supported plan sans a price increase for the no-ads plan. At the moment, the Hulu ad-supported plan costs $6.99 versus the $12.99 of the no-ads plan. It's hard to think of a scenario where a subscription to Disney+ will only set consumers back at less than $5, but it has happened. For example, Paramount Plus and Discovery Plus subscriptions only cost $4.99 a month each.
With a sub-$8 price point expected for the ad-supported Disney+ variant, at least in the United States, it's a steal no matter how you look at it. The ads might take a while to get used to, but Disney+ has a treasure trove of content to binge-watch with more coming. Case in point, Moon Knight will arrive on March 30 with Obi-Wan Kenobi expected to premiere on May 25 along with Netflix's entire Marvel library on March 15.
It will be interesting to see how competitors will respond to Disney's latest move, but the subscribers are the clear winners here as soon as Disney rolls out the ad-supported deal within the next 24 months.