Disney+ unveils a fresh chapter in its UK service offerings with the launch of three new subscription plans.
As of November 1, 2023, subscribers have a wider array of choices with the introduction of an ad-supported tier.
This new tier not only brings a budget-friendly option to the table, but also heralds a shift in Disney+’s pricing strategy. However, it also means some subscribers will have to start paying more.
This comprehensive guide dives into the heart of these changes, shedding light on the new pricing tiers, how the ad-supported plan is going to work exactly, and what this all means for both new and existing subscribers.
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 worth noting 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).
Disney+ UK’s New Plans
Until now, Disney+ offered a one-size-fits-all subscription plan priced at £7.99 per month or £79.90 annually (When Disney+ launched in the UK, in 2020, its cost was just £5.99/month or £59.99/year).
The single plan provided subscribers with 4K video quality, the ability to stream on four devices simultaneously, and access to downloads for offline viewing. Oh, and there were no adverts.
The revamped pricing structure diversifies the offerings into three distinct tiers, providing more options to suit different viewing preferences and budgets.
The new tiers are as follows:
Standard With Ads: Priced at £4.99/month, this plan offers Full HD 1080p video quality, two concurrent streams, and 5.1 and Stereo audio but won’t support downloads.
Standard: For £7.99/month or £79.90 annually, subscribers get Full HD 1080p video, two concurrent streams, 5.1 and Stereo audio, and the added benefit of downloads.
Premium: At £10.99/month or £109.90 annually, this tier offers up to 4K UHD & HDR video quality, four concurrent streams, Dolby Atmos audio, and download capability.
|Standard with Ads||Standard||Premium|
|Exclusive Originals and Library Content||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Video Quality||Up to Full HD 1080p||Up to Full HD 1080p||Up to 4K UHD & HDR|
|Downloads||✗||Download on up to 10 devices||Download on up to 10 devices|
|Audio||5.1 and Stereo||5.1 and Stereo||Up To Dolby Atmos|
This means that people who found £7.99/month to be too expensive, can now go for the £4.99/month plan – IF they’re willing to watch adverts.
However, it also means that people who want to get the same thing they’ve been getting so far – 4K and 4 concurrent streams – will have to pay substantially more at £10.99/month.
The Ad-Supported Plan Explained
The Standard with Ads plan will include up to 4 minutes of adverts per hour (considerably less than what we usually get on broadcast channels like ITV and Channel 4).
Furthermore, in films, the adverts will only show up before the movie starts – there won’t be any breaks during the film itself.
During the ad breaks, a timer will appear on the corner of the screen – counting down to the end of the full ad break.
As for kids’ content – Disney+ is replacing its “Kids” profile with a new “Junior Mode”, which is meant for children, and will only include hand-curated content.
On “Junior Mode”, there will be no adverts at all.
In addition, Disney+ will show different adverts depending on the age rating of the content you’re watching (so that if families watch content together – even on an ‘adult’ profile – the adverts will still be fitting for younger audiences).
Therefore, content marked as suitable for ages 0+, 6+ and 9+ will only show restricted adverts (presumably less of them – and they won’t include content that’s not suitable for young children).
Content for ages 12+ and 14+ will include most of the ads.
Content marked as 16+/18+ will include all of the ads.
Want To Skip The Adverts? You Can’t
The introduction of the ad-supported tier comes with specific ad policies outlined in Disney+’s updated “Terms of Service“.
Subscribers to this plan are required to allow the display of advertisements across their devices. The use of ad-blockers or any mechanisms to prevent ad display is prohibited.
If Disney+ believes a subscriber is using an ad-blocker, they reserve the right to suspend or terminate the subscription, or migrate the subscriber to a similar ad-free plan, billing them the corresponding price.
On the other hand, the “without ads” plans, while free from commercial interruptions, may still feature limited promotional content.
This can include information about other content on Disney+, other Disney services, product placements, or sponsorship messages.
It’s also worth noting that while the new ad-supported tier is available on most of the streaming devices and platforms in the UK – Virgin Media’s TV subscribers are currently blocked from it.
Impact On Existing Disney+ Subscribers
Existing subscribers, who were initially on the plan costing £7.99/month, will see a rebranding of their plan to “Disney+ Premium.”
At first, they will continue to pay the same price they’ve been paying (£7.99/m).
However, from December 6 onwards, their price will also hike to £10.99/month (the price of the regular ‘Premium’ tier).
This price change represents a significant 37.5% increase. Annual subscribers will also see a price jump from £79.90/year to £109.90/year – on their next annual billing date (anytime after December 6).
Subscribers have the option to retain their current “Premium” benefits by accepting the new prices – or they can of course switch to one of the new “Standard” or “Standard with Ads” plans.
However, each choice comes with its set of trade-offs, whether it’s the introduction of ads, reduced video resolution, or the loss of download capability.
Disney+ Password Sharing Crackdown Is Also Here
An additional factor to consider is Disney+’s updated stance on password sharing, which we previously reported about.
Although not directly related to the pricing, the crackdown on password sharing could indirectly affect the pricing for individuals who shared the cost of subscriptions until now.
On the other hand – the fact you can no longer share the account with people outside your household, may mean you no longer need 4 concurrent streams, so the ‘Standard’ plan may be enough for you.