Disney Plus: Price increases, the new ad tier and everything else to know

Disney Plus: Price increases, the new ad tier and everything else to know

Disney Plus has been the breakout success among a wave of new streaming services over the past two-plus years, thanks in part to its vast library of shows, movies and exclusive originals. The service has already raised its price once since its launch, and Thursday brought another trip, with a twist: The service also introduced a second subscription tier with advertising.

Here are the big details to know about the tiers, prices and everything else.

How much did Disney Plus increase prices?

Previously, Disney Plus had a single subscription level, which was ad-free. On Thursday, the service launched a new tier of ads in the US; at the same time, the price of its ad-free memberships in the US increased from $8 a month to $11. That means if you’re an existing Disney Plus subscriber who pays every month, your next bill will be $3 more.

Annual membership is now $110, up from $80 previously.

Disney Plus’ US price still undercuts the $15.50 monthly fee for Netflix’s most popular subscription in the US, which lets you stream to two different devices simultaneously in high definition. And Disney Plus lets all subscribers stream to four devices and access 4K content at no extra cost — features Netflix charges $20 a month to unlock at its premium tier.

Back in 2017, Disney CEO Bob Iger noted that Disney Plus pricing at launch would reflect “the fact that it will have significantly less volume” than its main competitor Netflix. As the months and years pass, Disney Plus amasses a larger catalog of exclusives and originals. When that happens, it is widely expected that the company will continue to push the price higher.

How much does the new ad-supported tier cost?

The new ad-supported subscription to Disney Plus is $8 a month, matching the price of the ad-free tier before Thursday’s hikes. That means if you want to continue streaming Disney Plus but don’t want to pay more money than you already paid, you’ll have to switch tiers and start watching with commercials. Otherwise, ad-free streaming on Disney Plus now costs $11.

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The ad-supported subscription does not offer an annual plan.

By comparison, Paramount Plus charges $5 for its level with advertising, and $10 for the ad-free version. HBO Max is $10 a month if you watch with ads or $15 a month to remove all ads. NBCUniversal’s Peacock has a limited free tier with advertising, which blocks any library from being streamed, and it offers two all-access subscriptions: an ad-supported membership for $5 and an ad-free one for $10.

How much is the Disney bundle with Hulu and ESPN Plus?

The company offers packages that combine Disney Plus with Hulu and ESPN Plusand offers a discount if you subscribe to more than one.

The launch of the ad-supported Disney Plus tier has adjusted the different combinations and prices of the packages:

  • $10 a month: Disney Plus and Hulu, both with ads
  • $13 a month: Disney Plus, Hulu and ESPN Plus, all three with ads
  • $20 a month: Ad-free Disney Plus and Hulu, plus ad-supported ESPN Plus

Disney has an additional package, but it’s only available to customers who already subscribe to it—you can’t sign up for it anymore. This package combines ad-free Disney Plus with ad-supported Hulu and ad-supported ESPN Plus for $15 per month.

Does Disney Plus have a free trial? Or other free offers?

Disney Plus no longer offers a standard free trial. It eliminated the one-week free trial program in June 2020.

But other offers can unlock Disney Plus for free (or at no extra cost).

For example, Disney and Verizon has a deal that will give some customers on certain plans the Disney “package” — Disney Plus, Hulu and ESPN Plus — at no extra charge; you’re meant to be eligible with Verizon’s advanced 5G Play More, 5G Do More and 5G Get More unlimited plans, as well as non-5G Get More or Play More. Other Verizon plans, such as the less expensive Start and Do More plans, have six months of Disney Plus included, but not the bundle. ONE Verizon websitehas the fine print with the terms of these agreements.

When are new movies and new series coming to Disney Plus?

All new titles are added to the service at midnight PT/3 am ET on the day of release.

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Typically, Disney Plus releases new series episodes early Wednesday morning, and original movies tend to land early Friday morning — but that’s not an iron-clad rule.

When does Black Panther: Wakanda Forever start streaming?

Disney hasn’t confirmed a streaming release date for the Black Panther sequel yet, but it’s fair to estimate that Wakanda Forever will likely start streaming sometime between late December and mid-to-late January.

To make an educated guess about Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’s timing, it’s most helpful to look at the timeline of other Marvel movies when Disney revived the practice of theatrical exclusives.

So far this year, Marvel has released Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness in May and Thor: Love and Thunder in July. Although Doctor Strange took 47 days to reach Disney Plus, Thor: Love and Thunder, the latest Marvel movie, came to Disney Plus 62 days after its theatrical release. That’s closer to Marvel’s theatrical exclusives last year: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was in theaters for 70 days and Eternals, 68 days.

If Black Panther: Wakanda Forever were to match Doctor Strange’s 47-day timeline, it would be on Disney Plus on December 28, tucked into the week after Christmas but before New Year’s Day. Every year, that week is an exceptionally popular time for streaming—it’s often when Netflix picks up some of the stuff greatest hits of all time.

But if Disney chooses Black Panther’s theatrical exclusive to be closer to the length of the other Marvel films, Black Panther won’t be available for streaming until mid-to-late January, or possibly even later.

Disney’s timing decisions for Black Panther and other upcoming movies — the new Avatar movie and the next Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy movies, to name a few — will likely depend on how much the company wants to generate box office dollars relative to how much it wants to collect new streaming subscribers and retain the ones it has.

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Which devices support Disney Plus?

Disney has broad device support, streaming to phones, tablets, computers, connected TVs and streaming media boxes. The company has global distribution agreements in place with Apple, Google, Microsoft, Roku, Sony, Amazon, Samsung and LG. It includes the creators of:

  • Roku’s boxes, sticks and TVs.
  • Apple TV, iPhone and iPad.
  • Phones and TVs running on Android operating systems, as well as Chromecast streamers.
  • Xbox One.
  • Playstation 4.
  • Amazon Fire TV units.
  • Samsung smart TVs.
  • LG smart TVs.
  • Comcast X1 set-top boxes and Flex platforms.
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What product features does the service include?

Video and audio formats: Disney Plus can stream 4K Ultra HD content in Dolby Vision, HDR10 and Dolby Atmos immersive sound. You can view a title’s available formats in any of the Disney Plus apps by clicking to the show or movie’s main page and then clicking the “details” tab. The app for streaming boxes, like Roku and Apple TV, is also designed to briefly flash a symbol that tells you the format you’re watching; it appears in the upper right corner of the screen for a few seconds when a video starts playing.

Concurrent Streams: Each Disney Plus account can stream to four devices simultaneously and can create seven user profiles for different members of the household. Each account can choose an avatar of a Disney, Pixar, Marvel or Star Wars character, with more than 200 avatars available.

Mobile Downloads: Disney Plus also offers unlimited mobile downloads for offline viewing. Subscribers can download to up to 10 mobile or tablet devices, with no restrictions on the number of times a title can be downloaded. The number of titles stored simultaneously on a device depends on the amount of storage space available on the device.

Language and availability: The service supported English, Spanish, French and Dutch at launch, including in the user interface as well as audio support and subtitles for library content. Disney Plus originals and much of the library are available in multiple languages ​​as audio or as subtitles. The app also supports subtitles, descriptive audio and navigation assistance to assist subscribers with disabilities. (In July, the American Council of the Blind gave Disney Plus an achievement award for its descriptive audio, specialized tracks that describe the settings and action that take place alongside a show’s dialogue.)

Parental control: Disney Plus offers parental controls in the form of child profiles. You can set any profile to be in Kids Mode, which has a simplified interface designed for younger viewers. These children’s profiles limit the library to programming rated TV-7FV and G in the US, or equivalent ratings in other geographic markets.

Group duty: Disney has a group watch feature, which allows you to sync your stream of any title on Disney Plus with other accounts through the app, so you can watch a show at the same time with friends or family even if you’re apart.

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