A cheaper, ad-supported version of Disney+ will be coming soon to a screen near you, and we have answers to your burning questions–well, most of them, anyway–about the upcoming service.
Details about the new Disney+ with ads tier are beginning to come into focus. We now know exactly when Disney+ will arrive, how many and what kinds of commercials you can expect, which territories will get the “with ads” tier first, and–most importantly–how much it will cost.
Read on for the skinny about Disney+ with ads, starting with…
When will Disney+ with ads arrive?
Disney execs first announced the new “with ads” tier of Disney+ in early March 2022, and at the time, they pegged a “late 2022” rollout.
During an earnings call five months later, Disney execs finally nailed down a launch date for the newly dubbed Disney+ Basic tier: Thursday, December 8, 2022.
Moving ahead, the existing, ad-free Disney+ plan will be known as Disney+ Premium.
How much will Disney+ with ads cost?
As it stands now, about four months prior to the launch of Disney+ Basic with ads, the standard, ad-free version of Disney+ costs $7.99 a month, following a $1-a-month price hike that hit back in March 2021.
So one might reasonably assume that the price of Disney+ Basic (with ads) will be something less than $7.99 a month, right?
During its earnings call in August, Disney announced that it will raise the price of the ad-free Disney+ Premium plan from $7.99 a month to $10.99/month, a whopping $3-a-month increase. That price increase will kick in on December 8, 2022, the same day as the launch of Disney+ Basic.
When it finally arrives on December 8, Disney+ Basic with ads will cost $7.99 a month, the same price that the ad-free version of Disney+ costs now.
That’s disappointing, but not unexpected. As early as March 2022, Disney CEO Bob Chapek was making noises about eventually “increas[ing] that price/value relationship” (translation: a price hike) for the ad-free tier.
There won’t be an annual rate for Disney+ Basic, but you will be able to get a year’s worth of Disney+ Premium for $109.99 starting on December 8. (Psst! You can lock in a year of Disney+ Premium at the current rate of $79.99 if you act before December 8.)
Will Disney+ with ads be available in a Disney bundle?
Yes, you’ll be able to get Disney+ Basic (with ads) in a pair of Disney bundles starting on December 8.
The first Disney bundle will offer Disney+ Basic and Hulu for $9.99 a month, while the second will have Disney+ Basic, Hulu, and ESPN+ for $12.99 a month.
That second bundle is a particularly good deal, given that Disney+ Basic and Hulu cost $7.99 a month each on their own, while ESPN+ costs $9.99 a month.
What streaming content will come included with Disney+ with ads?
When the ad-supported tier was first announced, Disney said it would “offer…our most beloved brands, Disney, Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel and National Geographic.”
So at this point, it sounds like Disney+ Basic with ads will be offering the same videos as the ad-free Disney+ Premium tier–fingers crossed.
How many commercials will Disney+ with ads users have to watch?
The big streamers who offer ad-supported tiers have been carefully experimenting with how many advertisements they can slip into an hour of programming without turning off viewers. The consensus seems to be that 4 to 5 minutes of commercials is that threshold, and it sounds like Disney is leaning toward the 4-minute range. That’s about in line with HBO Max, as Variety notes, and a little less than Peacock, which averages about 5 minutes of commercials an hour.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek has also said the streamer would–at least initially–be “very conservative up front” about the number of ads on Disney+ Basic. “We’re walking before we run in terms of seeing what the market will bear in terms of ad load,” Chapek noted, adding that “it’ll give us the ability to expand if we need to.”
What kind of ads can we expect?
Being the family-friendly brand that it is, Disney is apparently looking to keep more adult-oriented commercials off its streaming service. Variety reports that alcohol and political ads will likely be nixed and that Disney will be “cautious” about commercials during programming intended for pre-schoolers
Additionally, there will be no commercials at all on Disney+ kids or pre-school profiles, The Streamable reports.
Which territories will be getting Disney+ with ads?
The standard ad-free version of Disney+ is currently available in more than 50 countries on four continents, and it’s likely that the ad-free tier will eventually arrive on most if not all of those territories.
For now, however, Disney is only confirming that “international” regions will get Disney+ Basic with ads sometime in 2023.
Will Disney+ with ads be missing any features?
Good question, and the short answer is we don’t know yet. Looking at some other services, the most common feature that “with ads” subscribers must live without is downloads for offline viewing.
Another possibility is that 4K UHD streams will be reserved for the ad-free tier, but not every streamer does this; Paramount+, for example, does offer 4K streams to with-ads subscribers.
Updated on August 15, 2022 with more details about Disney+ Basic with ads, including its price and launch date.