Disney+’s ad tier is here, but it’s not exactly the good news consumers hoped for. Ostensibly, an ad tier for Disney+ should have lowered subscription costs, but that’s not exactly what it feels like is happening. Disney’s new ad tier, instead, costs the same as its ad-free tier previously did. And Disney+’s ad-free tier costs more. And it’s about to cost even more.
At a recent Disney earnings call, CEO Bob Iger revealed that Disney+’s ad-free tier was about to see a significant increase in cost. This is in order to “widen the delta” between what Disney+ costs with and without ads. Iger noted:
We plan to set a higher price for [the Disney+] ad-free tier later this year to better reflect the value of our content offerings
The exact magnitude of this Disney+ price increase is not yet known. But let’s take a look at what’s happening right now.
How Much Does a Disney+ Subscription Cost for Ad and Ad-Free Tiers?
The Price of Disney+’s Ad Tier
Disney+’s ad option is officially here. We first learned of the streamer’s plans to add an ad tier in May, but the streamer noted it hoped to use ads sparingly. Additionally, Kareem Daniel, former Chairman, Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution, noted that “Expanding access to Disney+ to a broader audience at a lower price point is a win for everyone – consumers, advertisers, and our storytellers.” But now it’s looking more like just a win for Disney because, ultimately, there is no “cheaper” version of Disney+ coming to consumers.
Instead, the ad tier on Disney+ will cost $7.99 a month, the previous price of Disney+ without ads. Consumers will be paying the same amount, but now ads will also be included in the proposition.
The Price of Disney+’s Ad-Free Tier
Meanwhile, the cost of Disney+’s advertising-free tier, which we all currently experience with our subscriptions, rose the previous cost of the “ad-free tier.” To experience Disney+ with no advertisements, consumers pay $10.99, a three-dollar increase on the previous subscription price.
Although it may not seem like that much, given the number of streaming platforms consumers pay for these days, every increase is felt. Additionally, the addition of the ad tier ad feels like it fails to expand access but simply keeps access the same, with a better experience coming at a higher cost. Not ideal.
The cost of the ad-free tier will also increase soon, we’ll have to wait and see by how much.
How Much Does a Hulu Subscription Cost?
Hulu has also seen price hikes in its subscription costs. Hulu’s current ad-supported tier will go from a cost of $6.99 a month or $69.99 a year to $7.99 a month or $79.99 a year.
Meanwhile, Hulu’s ad-free tier, which currently costs $12.99 a month, will see a leap to costing $14.99. Hulu’s cost increases will come into play on October 10.
The Cost of Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN Bundles
Bundled plans will also see price increases. Disney is offering a package of Disney+ and Hulu with ads for $9.99/month. Disney+, ESPN+, and Hulu, all without ads, will cost $19.99/month. Bundles with Hulu + Live TV and the other two platforms will also see an increase in cost to $69.99. This previously ad-free bundle will now include ads.
Soon Disney+ and Hulu will also join their content in one app, although both services will be available as standalone products. We don’t yet know what the join Hulu/Disney+ offering will cost consumers.
Disney+ Ad Tiers Have Arrived, But Streaming Still Costs More
In summary, Disney+’s advertising-based tier has now launched. In the meanwhile, Hulu, ESPN, and bundling will all cost more as price hikes kick in. This is probably not what consumers had in mind when they heard more options were coming to the streaming platform.
Only time will tell how these changes in subscription costs will affect Disney+, Hulu, their audiences, and their platforms. We’ll also have to wait and see what effect this ad tier has on other streamers, like Netflix, exploring ad tiers. Good luck to everyone navigating the streaming world out there.
Originally published August 10, 2022.