Verizon, a key U.S. launch partner for Disney Plus, is reupping with the Mouse House on a brand-new deal: The telco will give wireless customers on two of most expensive unlimited plans access to the Disney Plus, Hulu and ESPN Plus bundle — for no extra charge.
Starting Aug. 20, the Disney three-way bundle will be included in Verizon’s Play More and Get More unlimited plans for as long customers stay on those tiers. The bundle of Disney Plus, Hulu (with ads) and ESPN Plus is regularly $12.99 monthly, which is already a 35% discount versus the services purchased individually.
With the new deal, Verizon is ending the previous one-year-free Disney Plus offer for all unlimited wireless subs, which kicked off with the streamer’s November 2019 launch. However, Verizon Wireless customers on the Start and Do More unlimited plans will be eligible to get six months of Disney Plus included for free. Alternatively, existing customers currently receiving 12 months free access to Disney Plus can opt to pay $6 per month extra to stay in their current plan for full access to the Disney Plus/Hulu with ads/ESPN Plus bundle.
Terms of the agreement between Verizon and Disney aren’t public, but execs have said the telco is paying Disney a wholesale per-subscriber rate to include the streaming packages.
Verizon’s triple-play Disney bundle offer currently is scheduled to expire Feb. 28, 2021. But the companies could decide to to keep it going past that if it’s paying dividends. For Disney, it’s been a strategic goal to boost uptake of the streaming bundle to reduce churn rates, and that’s just what the new Verizon pact is designed to do.
“Consumers are entertaining themselves more from home, and the options out-of-home entertainment are more limited” amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, said Frank Boulben, SVP of marketing and products, Verizon Consumer Group. And, he added, “they’re more value-conscious.”
Disney and Verizon have kept mum about how many of the telco’s customers have taken the Disney Plus offer. In February, Disney’s then-CEO Bob Iger said around 20% of Disney Plus users came through Verizon. As of Aug. 3, Disney Plus had topped 60.5 million subs worldwide, the media company reported.
“What I can tell you is, I have a big smile on my face, and my counterpart at Disney does, too,” Boulben said.
Sean Breen, EVP of platform distribution, Disney Media Networks, said in a prepared statement, “The addition of the Disney Bundle to our agreement with Verizon reinforces our commitment to providing their subscribers with access to high-quality entertainment from Disney Plus, Hulu and ESPN Plus.”
For Verizon, the Disney Bundle offer is aimed at attracting new customers from competitors, and it also dangles a carrot in front of existing subs in the hopes of getting them to upgrade to pricier plans.
Verizon’s Get More Unlimited (starting at $55/line with four lines) throws in Disney Plus, Hulu and ESPN Plus along with unlimited access to Apple Music. Play Unlimited (starting at $45/line with four lines) also includes the Disney Bundle plus six months of Apple Music free.
The telco’s Do More Unlimited tier (starting at $45/line with four lines) provides six months free of both Disney Plus and Apple Music, as does the entry-level Start Unlimited ($35/line with four lines).
Meanwhile, Verizon is changing the Just Kids plan (which starts at $35 per line as an add-on to any other unlimited plan) to provide unlimited data for the parent-managed accounts. Previously, that was limited to 5 gigabytes of data usage per month, “and kids were complaining,” Boulben said. With the shift to unlimited usage, Just Kids lines will be speed-capped at 5 megabits per second.
All the new Verizon Wireless Mix & Match plans will provide access to the carrier’s 5G network, which the company expects to have deployed nationwide by the end of 2020, Boulben noted.