Verizon is giving away Disney Plus — the Mouse House’s new streaming service debuting next month — free for one year to all of its wireless customers on unlimited-data plans, under a broad new partnership between the two companies.
When Disney Plus launches Nov. 12, the telco will begin offering 12 months of the video-streaming service to all new and existing 4G LTE and 5G unlimited wireless customers. In addition, Verizon will extend the same offer to new Fios broadband or 5G home wireless internet customers. After the one-year promo pricing expires, Verizon customers will revert to the regular $6.99 monthly subscription price (unless they cancel Disney Plus).
The pact — under which Verizon is the exclusive U.S. wireless carrier partner for Disney Plus — should provide an immediate shot in the arm for Disney Plus’ initial subscriber count.
Business terms of Verizon’s free one-year giveaway of Disney Plus aren’t being disclosed, but it is assumed that the telco is paying some per-subscriber amount to the Mouse House under the pact. Verizon says it has about 100 million total wireless customers and that about half (50 million) are on unlimited plans that are eligible for the free Disney Plus offer.
While not commenting on the financial aspects, Ronan Dunne, CEO of Verizon Consumer Group, said “You can imagine this is a joint approach from the two of us for the launch of Disney Plus.”
Disney Plus is the dedicated streaming home for movies and TV shows from all of the media conglomerate’s brands, including Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars. In the first year, Disney Plus is slated to release more than 25 original series and 10 original films and documentaries, including “The Mandalorian,” from executive producer and writer Jon Favreau, and “Lady and the Tramp,” a remake of the 1955 animated film.
The Disney Plus service also will be the exclusive subscription-streaming service for films released by Walt Disney Studios in 2019 and beyond, including “Captain Marvel,” “Avengers: Endgame,” “Aladdin,” “Toy Story 4,” “The Lion King,” “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil,” “Frozen 2” and “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” along with a slew of Disney library titles.
“The launch of Disney Plus kicks off a new era of streaming for The Walt Disney Company, bringing nearly a century’s worth of content from our iconic studios to consumers directly,” Kevin Mayer, chairman of Disney’s Direct-to-Consumer & International segment, said in a statement. “We’re excited to share this moment with Verizon and bring Disney Plus to the millions of customers across its award-winning wireless network.”
Verizon chief Hans Vestberg added, “Giving Verizon customers an unprecedented offer and access to Disney Plus on the platform of their choice is yet another example of our commitment to provide the best premium content available through key partnerships on behalf of our customers.”
Verizon’s strategy, according to Dunne, is to pick best-in-class content partners rather than team up with dozens of players. He noted that Verizon inked a deal with Apple this year to give wireless subscribers on its two top unlimited plans access to Apple Music for no extra charge. “We’re not going to have 100 [streaming partner] offers,” he said. “It’s going to be the best of what’s streaming.”
The ad-free Disney Plus service will provide up to four concurrent streams per account, as well as the ability for subscribers to download content for offline viewing and get personalized recommendations for up to seven different profiles.
At launch, Verizon customers will be able to activate their Disney Plus subscription on a selection of mobile and connected-TV devices, including gaming consoles, streaming media players, and smart TVs. According to the company, it will offer one Disney Plus subscription per customer account. Customers who have pre-ordered Disney Plus are also eligible for the Verizon promo, receiving an extension to their current subscription.
The telco provides more info on the offer at verizonwireless.com/support/disney-faqs.
In a similar promo, Apple, which bows the Apple TV Plus streaming package on Nov. 1, is granting a year of free access to customers who purchase a new device. Otherwise, it’s priced at $4.99 per month.
Verizon’s deal with Disney is emblematic of a trend in recent years: As wireless subscriber growth has slowed, carriers have turned to deals with streaming services to reel in new customers.
For example, T-Mobile covers the cost of various Netflix packages for unlimited wireless customers who take at least two lines. The carrier also inked a deal with Jeffrey Katzenberg’s Quibi to be the exclusive wireless distribution partner for the mobile-video service’s launch (though the companies haven’t yet provided details about what that will mean).
AT&T offers customers on its top-tier Unlimited &More Premium plan a choice of one entertainment service for no extra charge — including HBO, Showtime or Spotify — for no extra charge. AT&T also is gearing up for the launch next spring of HBO Max, which will likely have a promotional tie-in with the wireless side of the house. And Sprint, which is trying to merge with T-Mobile, bundles in Hulu’s entry-level tier with ads (normally $5.99 per month) with Sprint Unlimited plans.