Disney’s popular streaming service, Disney+, has confirmed it will bring its ad-supported tier to Europe (and presumably the UK) soon – amid plans to increase its price.
Disney Plus’ ad-supported tier was launched in the US back in December, at a cost of $7.99/month. Subscribers who wanted to keep the ad-free experience had to start paying $10.99/month – jumping up from the original $7.99/m previously.
But in this week’s Earnings Call, Disney CEO Bob Iger announced plans to increase the price of the ad-supported tier even further, to “better reflect the value of our content offerings” (see more details below).
Furthermore, Iger announced plans to “launch our ad tier on Disney+ in Europe by the end of this calendar year”.
- Update: There’s now an official date for the Disney+ Ad-supported tier in the UK.
So, if the pricing trends of the Disney+ ad-supported tier remain the same in the UK as they are in the US – in practice, the new ad-based tier is not going to lower the costs for existing subscribers.
Instead, those who don’t wish to see adverts, will have to pay more each month – with the prices going up even further at some point.
In the UK, Disney+ includes content from the worlds of Disney, Marvel, Pixar, Star Wars, National Geographic and Star.
It’s interesting to note that Star, which is Disney’s general entertainment category for more mature audiences, doesn’t exist on the US version of Disney+.
This means UK subscribers are getting more content than their US counterparts (who currently get most of the more ‘mature’ content on the Hulu streaming service, which carries an additional subscription cost – but will be combined into a single app with Disney+ later this year).
In the UK, Disney+ currently costs £7.99/month or £79.90/year –and you can subscribe directly via this link.
When Disney+ first launched in the UK, its cost was just £5.99/month (or £59.99/year), but it was raised along with the launch of Star, in 2021.
Disney+ Ad-Supported Tier
Although streaming services originally brought home the promise of no adverts, ad-supported tiers are starting to pop up left and right these days.
Netflix launched its cheaper Basic-with-Adverts tier in the UK late last year, Amazon is heavily promoting its Freevee streaming service – which is free with adverts, and there are even rumours that Apple TV+ might get an ad-supported tier in the future.
Disney+ launched its ad-supported tier in the US in December 2022. This week, the company confirmed that the ad-supported tier would reach Europe “by the end of this calendar year”.
So – and keep in mind there’s no pricing information yet – if the ad-supported tier comes to the UK in a similar way to the US, the with-ads tier may cost £7.99/month, while those who don’t want to see adverts, may have to jump up to £10.99/month.
And there’s more bad news: More price increases are coming to the ad-supported tier, and it’s too early to say whether the UK version of the ad-supported tier would launch with the existing – or updated pricing tiers.
In its Quarter 2, 2023 Earnings Call this week, Disney CEO Bob Iger said:
“The truth is, we have only just begun to scratch the surface of what we can do with advertising on Disney+, and I’m incredibly bullish on our longer-term advertising positioning.
“Meanwhile, the pricing changes we’ve already implemented have proven successful. And we plan to set a higher price for our ad-free tier later this year to better reflect the value of our content offerings.”
Disney+ Removing Content
Along with the upcoming price increases – Disney+ also announced it would be removing some content from its streaming platforms – and will spend less on new TV shows and films.
“When we launched the service”, Iger said, “The goal was global subs. And we wanted to flood the so-called digital shelves with as much content as possible to achieve, obviously, as much sub-growth as possible.
“And now, as we grow the business in terms of the global footprint, we realized that we made a lot of content that is not necessarily driving sub-growth, and we’re getting much more surgical about what it is we make.
“So, as we look to reduce content spend, we’re looking to reduce it in a way that should not have any impact at all on subs. We believe that there’s an opportunity for us to focus more on real sub-drivers.”
According to Iger, when new content is made – it’s not just about the cost of producing it – but “everything needs to be marketed” – so fewer shows also mean a smaller marketing budget.
Christine McCarthy, Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer at Disney added that “To align with the strategic changes in our approach to content curation, we will be removing certain content from our streaming platforms.”
So, to summarize – Disney+ is planning to bring its ad-supported tier to the UK, effectively increase prices (especially if you want to keep the ad-free plan), produce less new content – and remove some existing shows and films from Disney+.
All in all – the golden age of streaming, at least in terms of value for money and the amount of content we get – seems to be coming to an end.
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