Disney has confirmed that it will add a new ad-supported subscription to its Disney Plus streaming service this year. The new tier will be available in the US from late 2022 and is set to expand internationally in 2023.
Offering users an ad-supported alternative is becoming more common as increasing numbers of streaming services compete for subscribers in a saturated market. In the US, both HBO Max and Peacock have ad-supported tiers that save customers $5 on their monthly fee (though on former content is limited to HD instead of 4K). Meanwhile, the ad-supported version of Hulu, owned by Disney, is $6 cheaper than the top tier.
Disney hasn't yet given any indication of what it will charge for its step-down service or whether it will include a downgrade in video or audio quality. The monthly cost of Disney Plus currently stands at £7.99 ($7.99, AU$11.99) per month or £79.90 ($70, AU$120) if you're willing to pay for a year upfront. There's also a Disney Plus, Hulu, and ESPN Plus bundle available for $13.99 per month in the US.
No doubt, Disney is hoping that the addition of the new tier will help strengthen its subscription numbers and help it reach its target of 230 to 260 million users by 2024. Disney Plus finished 2021 with a healthy 129.8 million paying subscribers, up 11.8 million on the previous quarter and smashing its 2019 launch goal of between 60 and 90 million customers within four years.
While it still lags behind Netflix's 222 million subscribers, it's certainly catching up fast. Especially considering Netflix has been in operation for 24 years and has been streaming content since 2007.
Speaking about the launch, Kareem Daniel, Chairman, Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution, said, "Expanding access to Disney+ to a broader audience at a lower price point is a win for everyone - consumers, advertisers, and our storytellers.
"More consumers will be able to access our amazing content. Advertisers will be able to reach a wider audience, and our storytellers will be able to share their incredible work with more fans and families."