In a recent Q3 earnings call, Disney CEO Bob Iger unveiled a series of significant pricing changes for the company’s streaming platforms, including Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+. While the new pricing model introduces a discounted bundle option, it also entails notable price hikes across all three services.
Effective from October 12, the ad-free subscription plan for Disney+ will increase from $10.99 to $13.99 per month. Similarly, Hulu’s ad-free plan will experience the same price surge, rising from $14.99 to $17.99. However, Disney aims to maintain the cost of its ad-supported plans to encourage consumer adoption. Notably, the new pricing adjustments compound with last year’s increases, with Disney+’s premium plan now $6 more expensive and Hulu’s premium plan having escalated by $5 within the past year.
ESPN+ subscribers will also experience a minor price bump, as their monthly subscription charge climbs from $9.99 to $10.99. Furthermore, the Hulu + Live TV offering will witness a $7 surge in both its ad-supported and ad-free tiers, reaching $76.99 and $89.99, respectively.
New Premium Bundle Offers Savings for Subscribers
Amid these price changes, Disney introduced a new premium bundle – the duo plan – which will offer ad-free access to both Disney+ and Hulu for a consolidated fee of $19.99 per month. Subscribers can opt for this bundle starting September 6, aiming to save over $10 compared to separate subscriptions. The existing bundles, including the ad-supported Hulu and Disney+ bundle, as well as the trio bundle featuring all three platforms, will remain available at adjusted prices, with the latter offered at $24.99.
Global Expansion and Future Strategies
The international market is not exempt from these changes. Disney intends to extend its ad-supported plan to Canada and select EMEA markets, launching a new standard tier and standard tier with ads for Disney+ on November 1. These new plans will start at £4.99/€5.99 per month in EMEA and $7.99 per month in Canada. The company has also indicated forthcoming premium subscription increases in these markets.
Joe Earley, President of Direct-to-Consumer, Disney Entertainment, highlighted the success of their ad-supported plans, which have attracted 3.3 million customers since launch. The company aims to replicate this momentum by expanding the offering to additional global markets, including Europe and Canada.
Controversy and Industry Impact
Despite these adjustments, the pricing changes have stirred some discontent, especially considering ongoing strikes by writers and actors advocating for fair compensation. Iger’s justification for the price adjustments to align the platforms’ worth has been met with skepticism.
In addition to these modifications, Disney is set to adopt tactics similar to Netflix to curb password sharing and encourage more paid subscriptions. Iger confirmed that measures would be put in place to prevent illicit sharing, starting in 2024.