Disney+ to Launch Affordable Ad-Supported Plan | Is It Safe for Young Kids and Preschoolers? (+ Pros and Pricing)

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Nearly every streaming provider is now lining up to provide more affordable ad-supported plans by the end of this year, but the good news for Disney fans is that it looks like the House of Mouse is planning on taking a much lighter touch.

With more networks and studios carving out their own streaming turf, the world of online video services is starting to look just as fragmented as cable television. Big players like Netflix have begun suffering as content libraries dwindle and their original shows can’t hold people’s attention.

Even Disney is feeling the crunch. After launching in 2019 — barely two weeks after Apple TV+ made its debut — it quickly reached over 100 million subscribers. However, Disney’s plans for the service are considerably more ambitious; it hopes to get around 250 million subscribers by 2024, but it’s also come to realize the only way it will get there is by offering a more affordable tier.

Hence, earlier this year, Disney announced that it would be launching an “ad-supported subscription” later this year in the U.S., with plans to expand that to the rest of the world in 2023.

Expanding access to Disney+ to a broader audience at a lower price point is a win for everyone – consumers, advertisers, and our storytellers. 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.

Kareem Daniel, Chairman, Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution

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Disney+ with Ads Pricing Not Yet Available

The announcement was short on details as to precisely what this new ad-supported tier will look like or how much it will cost. The current ad-free plan is $7.99 per month or $79.99 per year, the latter of which works out to $6.67 per month. An ad-supported plan would obviously be less than that, but it’s hard to say how much less.

While Disney still hasn’t said anything about pricing or launch date, it did share a few tidbits with The Wall Street Journal (Apple News+) about how the advertising will work, and it sounds promising.

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Pro | Fewer Commercials

Firstly, viewers aren’t going to be inundated by commercials. Disney has promised that no more than four minutes’ worth of ads will be shown per hour. That’s less than the ad-supported tiers of rival streaming services and a fraction of what traditional TV networks show.

  • For comparison, The Journal notes that the ad-supported tier of Hulu, which Disney owns, shows ads for twice as much time.
  • NBCUniversal’s Peacock service runs about five minutes of commercials per hour.
  • Warner Bros. Discovery has said HBO Max will be limited to four minutes per hour.

Those are all still far better than the TV networks, which average between 18 and 23 minutes of ads every hour.

Is Disney+ with Ads Safe for Kids?

Disney has also promised that ads will not be shown to preschoolers. All programming that caters to preschoolers will be ad-free no matter who’s watching, and preschoolers who use their own profiles won’t see advertising no matter what they choose to stream.

We’re never going to collect data on individual kids to target them. Rita Ferro, Disney’s president of ad sales and partnerships.

The Journal notes that Madison Avenue advertisers are salivating at the prospect of running ads on Disney+ to reach a younger demographic that’s left traditional TV networks behind. Advertisers also like the “brand-safe” content on Disney+, which is nearly guaranteed to be uncontroversial.

To preserve its family-friendly image, Disney is also being quite picky about what types of ads it will allow on its streaming service.

According to Variety, alcohol and political advertising will be off-limits. Disney also naturally won’t be running ads from rival outlets or entertainment studios for obvious reasons.

Disney hasn’t commented on this policy directly; Variety’s information came from sources within the ad industry.

Pro | Higher Class of Advertising

Media buyers have expressed surprise at how much control Disney is exerting over the ad roster, although they add this could work out in Disney’s favor. A higher class of advertising would create more demand for ad space on the streaming service.

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