Streaming

Disney plans portfolio-wide price hikes amid its ad-supported push

Disney+’s ad-supported tier will arrive Dec. 8 alongside the increases.
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Aladdin/Disney via Giphy

· less than 3 min read

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Watching Disney+ or Hulu without ads is about to get more expensive.

Disney’s further push into ad-supported streaming will come with price hikes across the company’s streaming portfolio, the company announced Wednesday.

Mark your calendars: Disney+’s ad-supported tier will arrive on Dec. 8 for $7.99 a month, the same price many existing subscribers currently pay for ad-free viewing. Continuing to view ad-free on Disney+ Premium will cost $3 more per month.

Other customers will also need to pay up:

  • Hulu’s current $6.99-a-month ad-supported tier will cost $1 more beginning Dec. 8.
  • Ad-free Hulu, currently $12.99 a month, will increase by $2 a month.
  • ESPN+, which is only available with ads, will also increase from $6.99 a month to $9.99 a month beginning later this month, the company previously announced.

What won’t change is the cost of the mostly ad-free Disney bundle, which includes ad-free Disney+, ad-free Hulu, and ad-supported ESPN+ for $19.99 a month. (Other bundle options include ad-supported Hulu and Disney+ for $9.99 a month, or ad-supported Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ for $12.99 a month.)

The company does not expect price increases to meaningfully affect churn in the long run, CEO Bob Chapek said.

Ad up: Disney executives hope many Disney+ subscribers opt to watch ads at the same price point they are used to, which would be good news for all the advertisers clamoring to access viewers via the service. “Based on our Hulu experience, even current subscribers who have ad-free may choose to stay at the same price point with ads,” Disney CFO Christine McCarthy told investors during its Q3 earnings call, adding that about two-thirds of Hulu subscribers opt to watch the service with ads.

Pay up: The price increases also come as the company shells out billions of dollars to make shows like Andor and movies like Prey. Disney’s DTC business lost $1.1 billion in the quarter, mostly due to higher programming and production costs, it disclosed.

Scale up: Disney ended the quarter with 221 million total subscriptions, with Disney+ at 152.1 million total subs, Hulu at 46.2 million subs, and ESPN+ at 22.8 million subs. But growth is slowing, and the company lowered its 2024 subscriber forecast by 15 million.—KS

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