A major change is coming to Disney+ in the UK soon, with the company set to shake up its subscription model – and its pricing.
Following its successful implementation in the US., Disney+ has announced the introduction of an ad-supported subscription tier for the UK, which will launch on November 1, 2023.
Along with the new ad-supported tier, a new ‘Standard’ tier will be added, and the existing UK Disney+ subscription that we know today – will turn into a ‘Premium’ tier, with prices set to go up for some (see more details below).
Disney+ (see our review) launched in the UK in 2020, and can now be streamed on most streaming devices and Smart TVs. 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 soon be combined into a single app with Disney+).
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.
Adverts Coming To Disney+ UK
Late last year, Disney+ made waves in the streaming industry by introducing its ad-supported tier in the US.
Priced at $7.99/month, this new offering provided subscribers with the same expansive content library but included periodic advertisements.
However, those who wished to retain an ad-free viewing experience saw a price increase, with the ad-free subscription jumping from the original $7.99/month to $10.99/month and, from next October – $13.99/month.
Disney’s move was seen as a strategic response to the evolving streaming landscape, where platforms were exploring ways to diversify revenue streams while offering competitive pricing to subscribers.
The US launch was closely watched by industry experts and consumers alike, as it set a precedent for major streaming platforms – such as Netflix – introducing ads into their traditionally ad-free environments.
Disney+ UK Ad-Supported Tier: What We Know
Fast forward to the present, and Disney+ has announced today its plans to expand this ad-supported model to several countries in Europe, including the UK, and Canada, from November 1.
The decision to bring this model to the UK is significant, given the platform’s popularity and the rich content it offers, from Disney classics to Marvel blockbusters.
The new ad-supported subscription in the UK, which will be called “Standard With Ads“, is set to be priced at £4.99/month, offering a more affordable option for those willing to experience occasional ads.
Furthermore, Disney+ is introducing a new Disney+ tier – “Standard Without Ads“, which will cost £7.99/month.
The existing single tier that we have in the UK today, will be called “Premium” from November – and will cost £10.99/month.
- We have a full breakdown of the new Disney+ subscription tiers – and prices – here.
It’s important to note that existing subscribers will remain in the Premium tier with no ads, even when the subscription price increases in November – but… only until December 6.
After that date, existing customers who choose not to switch will be billed the new price starting from their next billing cycle.
They will, of course, have the choice to switch to the new, lower-priced plans if they prefer.
Therefore, if you’re currently a Disney+ subscriber – you’ll be getting the same service, for the same price – until December.
New subscribers, however (after November 1), will have more options – but will also have to pay more for the Premium no-ads tier.
Joe Earley, President, Direct-to-Consumer, Disney Entertainment, highlighted the success of the US model and emphasized the company’s commitment to providing “choice, flexibility, and value” to its subscribers.
The introduction of this tier in the UK underscores Disney’s belief in the viability and appeal of the ad-supported tier.
Disney+ Following In The Footsteps Of Netflix
The streaming industry, once heralded as the ad-free oasis for cord-cutters, is undergoing a significant transformation.
As platforms grapple with the challenges of revenue generation, subscriber growth, and market saturation, there’s a noticeable shift towards ad-supported models.
This trend, while not entirely new, has gained momentum with industry giants like Disney+ and Netflix making pivotal changes to their subscription offerings.
Netflix’s Foray Into Ad-Supported Streaming
Netflix, the global streaming leader, has been at the forefront of this shift this year.
Historically known for its ad-free, binge-worthy content, the platform surprised many when it introduced its ad-supported tier, which came to the UK in late 2022.
Initially dubbed ‘Basic with Ads’, this tier allowed subscribers to access the majority of Netflix’s vast content library at a reduced price of £4.99/month, with the caveat of enduring several minutes of ads per hour.
However, this ‘Basic with Ads’ model underwent a significant revamp in April 2023. Netflix upgraded the video quality from 720p to 1080p and permitted two simultaneous streams, essentially mirroring the offerings of the higher-priced ‘Standard’ tier.
This led to a rebranding, with ‘Basic with Ads’ becoming ‘Standard with Ads’. Despite these enhancements, the price remained competitive, making it an attractive option for budget-conscious viewers willing to tolerate periodic ads.
But Netflix’s strategy didn’t stop there.
In a move that further underscored its commitment to the ad-supported model, the platform recently discontinued its original ‘Basic’ tier in the UK and the US, as Cord Busters was first to report.
This tier, priced at £6.99/month, allowed subscribers to stream content in HD (720p) on a single device without ads.
With its discontinuation, new subscribers now face a choice: opt for the ‘Standard with Ads’ tier or pay a higher subscription fee for an ad-free experience (although there’s still a trick that lets new subscribers get the Basic Netflix tier).
Drawing Parallels: Netflix and Disney+
Disney+’s announcement of its ad-supported tier in Europe and Canada closely mirrors Netflix’s strategy.
Both platforms are recognizing the potential of ad-supported models to cater to a broader audience, especially those who prioritize affordability over an ad-free experience.
While the specifics of their offerings differ, the underlying strategy is clear: diversify revenue streams while retaining and growing the subscriber base.
Of course, this isn’t necessarily good news for all customers – some are unwilling to watch adverts with their streaming – and for those, prices keep going up across the board – as they will for Disney+ customers in December.
For more future updates on Disney+, TV and streaming, Subscribe to our free newsletter.