The ad-supported Disney Plus plan will be introduced beginning in the U.S. in late 2022, with plans to expand internationally in 2023, the media conglomerate announced Friday.
No pricing or specific launch date was announced. The AVOD version of Disney Plus will be offered at a price less than the regular ad-free version, which in the U.S. costs $7.99 per month.
Disney said the ad-supported version of Disney Plus is a “building block” for the company’s target of reaching 230 million-260 million Disney Plus subscribers worldwide by the end of its 2024 fiscal year. At the end of 2021, Disney Plus had 129.8 million paying customers worldwide, gaining 11.8 million for the quarter ended Jan. 1, 2022.
Disney Plus first bowed in November 2019, and execs had been noncommittal when asked whether they had plans to introduce an ad-supported tier. The Mouse House’s streaming portfolio includes Hulu — which offers an ad-supported streaming plan — and ESPN Plus.
Among Disney Plus’s major rivals, Netflix and Amazon’s Prime Video do not include ad-supported options. WarnerMedia (soon to merge with Discovery) added an AVOD version of HBO Max last June; other streamers that offer by ad-free and ad-supported plans include Paramount Plus, Discovery Plus and NBCUniversal’s Peacock.
“Expanding access to Disney Plus to a broader audience at a lower price point is a win for everyone — consumers, advertisers, and our storytellers,” Kareem Daniel, chairman of Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution, said in announcing the plans. “More consumers will be able to access our amazing content. Advertisers will be able to reach a wider audience, and our storytellers will be able to share their incredible work with more fans and families.”
“Since its launch, advertisers have been clamoring for the opportunity to be part of Disney Plus, and not just because there’s a growing demand for more streaming inventory,” Rita Ferro, president of advertising for Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution, said in a statement. “Disney Plus with advertising will offer marketers the most premium environment in streaming with our most beloved brands, Disney, Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel and National Geographic.”
Ferro added, “I can’t wait to share more with advertisers at the Upfront.” Disney’s TV advertising upfront is scheduled for May 17 in New York City.