Ad-supported Disney+ tier to expand to Canada, U.K. and eight other European countries this fall
Disney, trying to swing its streaming business into the black, has set substantial price hikes for Disney+ and Hulu standalone premium plans in the U.S. — while also rolling out a heavily discounted Disney+/Hulu ad-free combo bundle.
As of Oct. 12, Disney+ Premium (with no ads) will jump 27%, rising from $10.99 to $13.99/month for U.S. customers. Hulu without ads will increase 20%, from $14.99 to $17.99/month. The price for Disney+ and Hulu standalone ad-supported tiers will remain at $7.99/month each, and with the bundle of the two still $9.99/month.
In addition, the monthly price of the two Hulu + Live TV packages will each go up by $7 as of Oct. 12 (the plan with ads increases to $76.99; the tier with no ads on VOD rises to $89.99). And ESPN+ pricing will increase by one dollar, from $9.99 to $10.99/month.
Internationally, the company is set to expand Disney+ ad-supported plans to Canada, the U.K. and eight other European countries beginning Nov. 1. The monthly pricing will be $7.99 in Canada, £4.99 in the U.K. and €5.99 in the European markets (France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Norway, Sweden and Denmark). According to Disney, in December 2023, it will increase subscription prices of Disney+ without ads in those markets.
Since launching the ad-supported version of Disney+ in the U.S. in December 2022, the company has signed up 3.3 million customers for the plan, CEO Bob Iger said on the earnings call Wednesday.
Iger also said that Disney will be exploring new ways of cracking down on illicit password-sharing, and plans to “roll out tactics sometime in 2024.” He declined to quantify how widespread the issue is but said it was “significant.”
For American customers, it’s the second price hike in less than a year for Disney+ Premium, after going up by three dollars per month in December 2022 when the version with ads debuted in the U.S. At $13.99/month, it will have doubled from the original $6.99/month introductory price four years ago. The price of Hulu without ads last increased in October 2022.
At the same time, Disney is aggressively trying to push customers into streaming bundles. Ahead of those price hikes, Disney on Sept. 6 will launch a new ad-free bundled subscription plan with Disney+ and Hulu for $19.99/month, a 37% discount from the standalone plans. (See table below with details.)
Iger has expressed his belief that Disney+’s pricing has been “way off.” In May, he said the company would raise the price of Disney+ Premium this year “to better reflect the value of our content offerings.” He also said an integrated Hulu/Disney+ app experience is on deck for customers who take both services.
Disney announced the streaming pricing and plan changes on its earnings call Wednesday, after reporting a mixed bag for the three months ended July 1. Disney narrowed the operating loss in its Direct-to-Consumer streaming segment to $512 million (compared with $1.1 billion in the year-ago quarter), while revenue rose 9% to $5.5 billion.
Overall, Disney+’s subscriber count inched up by 800,000, an increase of 1% sequentially to 105.7 million (excluding Disney+ Hotstar, which saw subs drop 24% after Disney lost IPL cricket rights). In the U.S. and Canada, Disney+ shed about 300,000 customers to stand at 46.0 million. Hulu added 300,000 in the period to reach 44.0 million, and ESPN+ was roughly flat at 25.2 million.
“The strong momentum of our ad-supported plans in the U.S. demonstrates the importance of providing consumers with choice, flexibility and value,” Joe Earley, president of direct-to-consumer for Disney Entertainment, said in a statement. “We are excited to expand that offering in more markets across the globe, including in Europe and Canada, and to launch a new premium duo bundle of ad-free Disney+ and Hulu this fall, as we take steps toward making extensive Hulu content available via Disney+ later this year for bundle subscribers.”
Disney is expected to buy out Comcast’s 33% stake in Hulu. Starting in January 2024, Disney can require Comcast to sell its stake in Hulu (and, conversely, Comcast can force the sale). Comcast CEO Brian Roberts has indicated he’s willing to make a deal but said, “I’m pretty certain if and when we sell our Hulu stake, it will be for more than what we have in it.”
Here’s the updated pricing across Disney’s streaming portfolio in the U.S.:
|Disney+ (With Ads) Add-On||$2||N/A|
|ESPN+ on Hulu Add-On*||$10.99||N/A|
|UFC PPV (standalone)||$79.99 per event|
|UFC PPV + Annual*||N/A||$134.98|
|Bundles||Duo Premium: Disney+ (No Ads), Hulu (No Ads)**||$19.99||N/A|
|Duo Basic: Disney+ (With Ads), Hulu (With Ads)||$9.99||N/A|
|Trio Premium: Disney+ (No Ads), Hulu (No Ads), ESPN+ (With Ads)*||$24.99||N/A|
|Trio Basic: Disney+ (With Ads), Hulu (With Ads), ESPN+ (With Ads)*||$14.99||N/A|
|Hulu + Live TV||With Ads*||$76.99||N/A|
** Available beginning Sept. 6, 2023
Now dig into the data-filled VIP+ subscriber report …