Disney To Viewers: Pay More Or Watch Ads

Disney+ is joining rival streaming services by giving customers a choice between price hikes and watching ads. It’s a surprise move given the company’s history with a family audience.

The overhaul of pricing, which takes effect in December, means that customers who do nothing will continue to pay $7.99 but will now start seeing ads. The other option is to switch to an ad-free tier of $10.99 a month, or $109.99 as an annual payment. (There’ll no longer be an option to get an annual payment discount on the standard tier.)

It’s part of a range of price hikes from Disney including:

  • Hulu with ads: $6.99 rising to $7.99.
  • Hulu without ads: $12.99 up to $14.99
  • Disney Plus (Hulu with ads, Disney+ without ads, ESPN+): $13.99 up to $14.99.

Disney Plus Premium (Hulu without ads, Disney + without ads, ESPN+) remains at $19.99.

The big unanswered questions now are how seamlessly the ads will be inserted (eg automatically or at logical breaks) and whether they’ll be included in programming directly aimed at children. Historically Disney has been wary about showing ads (other than for its own products) to children, for example avoiding them on its cable TV channel.

While it’s almost certainly just a coincidence, the announcement of the price hike comes right at the point Disney Plus overtook Netflix’s subscriber total, with 221 million to 220.7 million.