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Disney's (DIS) Ad-Supported Disney+ Basic to Arrive on Dec 8

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Disney (DIS - Free Report) recently announced that a new ad-supported offering for the Disney+ streaming service will be available starting Dec 8, 2022.

The new ad-supported Disney+ Basic subscription will cost $7.99 a month, which is the current pricing for Disney+ without ads. Disney notes that the ad-free subscription plan will be called Disney+ Premium and will cost $10.99 a month.

Disney is also raising the price of its Hulu subscription. The ad-free tier will jump from $12.99/month to $14.99, while the ad-supported version will cost $7.99/month, up from $6.99. The new pricing goes into effect on Oct 10, 2022. A price hike for ESPN+ streaming was announced in July, taking the monthly price from $6.99 to $9.99/month

Users with an ad-free Disney+ subscription along with an ad-supported plan for Hulu and ESPN Plus will increase from $13.99 to $14.99/month. Disney is also introducing a bundle that includes Disney+ and Hulu with ads for $9.99/month. Meanwhile, bundled together, Disney+, Hulu, and ad-supported ESPN+ will cost $19.99/month.

Disney has also adjusted its pricing for its Hulu live TV bundles. Hulu’s live TV bundle with ad-supported Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ plans will cost $69.99/month. The live TV bundle with ad-free Disney+, as well as ad-supported Hulu and ESPN+ plans, will cost $74.99. Users will have to spend $82.99/month to get a live TV plan without ads on Disney+ or Hulu and ad-supported ESPN+.

Disney Outnumbers Netflix’s Subscriber Base but Will It Sustain?

Overall, Disney+ subscriptions went up to 152.1 million for its third fiscal quarter that ended on Jul 2, and the streaming giant added 14.4 million new subscribers in the April-June period. Most of the new Disney+ subscribers came from outside the United States and Canada. Of the 14.4 million new customers, only 100,000 came from North America.

In total, Disney streaming services, comprising Disney+, Hotstar, Hulu and ESPN+, now have over 221.1 million subscribers worldwide. The recent gains propelled the company past rival Netflix (NFLX - Free Report) , which at the end of the second quarter had 220.7 million subscribers.

In the face of growing subscription costs and declining viewership, Netflix is set to introduce a new lower-priced ad-supported subscription plan apart from its existing ad-free basic, standard and premium plans. The streaming giant is partnering with Microsoft (MSFT - Free Report) to power its first ad-support subscription offering.

The software giant brought in $10 billion in ad revenues last year, selling ads on various services such as its Bing search engine and its business-focused social network, LinkedIn. Last month, Microsoft completed its acquisition of AT&T’s online advertising platform, Xandr, which allows advertisers to buy ad space across thousands of websites and target audiences.

Netflix’s most popular streaming plan in the United States is now $15.50 per month. That follows several rate hikes to help pay for its original programming, which has gained importance since Disney pulled its programming and classic movies from Netflix after licensing agreements between the companies expired.

Apple’s (AAPL - Free Report) streaming service, Apple TV+, continues to gain recognition with its critically acclaimed and popular shows like Ted Lasso. This year, Apple TV+ has earned 52 Emmy nominations, with the second season of Ted Lasso getting 20 nominations overall. Another show, Severance, has garnered 14 total nominations in its first season.

For Disney, the increase in ad-free subscription pricing comes as rising production and programming costs for Disney+ and higher sports programming costs at ESPN+ contributed to operating losses in the recently reported fiscal third quarter. Direct-to-Consumer revenues increased 19% year over year to $5.1 billion and operating loss increased $0.8 billion to $1.1 billion. The increase in operating loss was due to a higher loss at Disney+, lower operating income at Hulu and, to a lesser extent, a higher loss at ESPN+.

This Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) company lowered its 2024 forecast for Disney+ between 215 million and 245 million subscribers. It had previously set subscriber guidance in the range of 230 million-260 million by the end of fiscal 2024. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Shares of the company have lost 27.4% year to date compared with the Zacks Consumer Discretionary sector’s decline of 28.8% on a year-to-date basis.

The new adjustment arrived from reduced expectations for India, where the company is losing streaming rights for Indian Premier League cricket matches. This is for the first time that Disney broke out estimates for Disney+ Hotstar customers in India from the rest of Disney+.

Disney+ Hotstar has added 8.3 million subscribers in the company's third fiscal quarter, reaching 58.4 million subscribers in India and Southeast Asia.

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