Disney+ to launch cheaper, ad-supported tier “in late 2022”

Disney+ on home device

Confirming previous reports suggesting that Disney was considering introducing a more affordable, ad-supported tier to its Disney+ streaming platform to combat slowing growth in its subscriber base, the company has announced that it will indeed launch such a plan in the United States before the end of this year. Other parts of the world will have to wait until 2023.

Kareem Daniel, Chairman at Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution, said in a statement: “Expanding access to Disney+ to a broader audience at a lower price point is a win for everyone – consumers, advertisers, and our storytellers.”

Daniel said that the new tier would mean more consumers being able to access Disney+ content, advertisers being able to reach a broader audience, and storytellers being able to “share their incredible work with more fans and families.”

The Disney+ statement reminded readers that the new tier will be far from Disney’s first contact with ad-supported streaming, given that it already has both Hulu and ESPN+, which the company described as “the industry’s premier ad-supported streaming services”.

Rita Ferro, Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution’s President, Advertising, explained of the new subscription tier’s relevance and appeal to advertisers: “Since its launch, advertisers have been clamoring for the opportunity to be part of Disney+ and not just because there’s a growing demand for more streaming inventory.

“Disney+ with advertising will offer marketers the most premium environment in streaming with our most beloved brands, Disney, Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel and National Geographic.”

The company also indicated that the ad-supported tier was regarded as a “building block” towards its aim of achieving between 230 and 260 million Disney+ subscribers by 2023. The service has already reached 130 million subscribers since its launch in November 2019, although a slowdown in growth has been observed in recent times.

The new subscription tier’s debut in the US is planned for “late 2022”, but the Disney statement said that further details, including the exact launch date and pricing, would be confirmed “at a later date”. There has been speculation that this “later date” could turn out to be May 17, when Disney+ will hold its 2022 upfront event in New York – “upfronts” being annual events where broadcasters show their forthcoming programs to advertisers.

At the moment, Disney+ subscribers are expected to pay $7.99 a month for the service. There is also the option, however, for them to save money over the year by committing to a $79.99 annual subscription.

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