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Pick your tier: Disney+ to offer cheaper, ad-based subscription option by late 2022

The ad-based model will expand to international markets by 2023.

By Josh Weiss
Disney+ Remote GETTY

Almost three years after its debut on the streaming battlefield, Disney+ is finally gearing up for a new ad-based option in an effort to hook an influx of fresh subscribers. The Mouse House-owned platform announced Friday that the pricing model — which has yet to reveal any specifics — will become available in late 2022, with a plan to extend to international markets in 2023.

Disney+ hopes to secure between 230-260 million customers by the 2024 Fiscal Year. While the service is chock full of classic films and television shows, the real incentive for those still on the subscription fence is the slew of high-end projects, particularly those set in the Star Wars and Marvel universes (WandaVision, for instance, was the most-pirated television title of 2021). The company reportedly closed out 2021 with 130 million paying users.

“Expanding access to Disney+ to a broader audience at a lower price point is a win for everyone - consumers, advertisers, and our storytellers,” Kareem Daniel, Chairman, Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution, said in a statement. “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+ and not just because there’s a growing demand for more streaming inventory,” added Rita Ferro, President, Advertising, Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution. “Disney+ with advertising will offer marketers the most premium environment in streaming with our most beloved brands, Disney, Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel and National Geographic. I can’t wait to share more with advertisers at the Upfront.”

Speaking with Insider last summer, Disney streaming boss, Michael Paull (he oversees Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+, and Star+), touched on the overwhelmingly positive fan reactions to the prestige shows specifically produced for Disney+.

"It probably shouldn't have been a surprise, but the fandom that exists, the emotional connection between Disney fans and Disney+ was really remarkable," he explained. "Just seeing the responses we're getting when we're dropping a new episode of Loki: There are people who are waiting up until three in the morning to watch those episodes when we drop it on the East Coast — and not a small number of people — and it just shows massive fandom and massive emotional attachment to our content."

Earlier in the conversation, Paull laid out his goal for household consumption: "I want every TV set in the household to be able to watch Disney+ and ESPN+. So not just the new TV in the living room but even the older television in the kids' room or in the kitchen, and that's a very lofty goal. We also created a strategy to enable Disney+ to work on set-top boxes, and we've been deploying that strategy around the world because we recognize in many parts of the world, that's still the primary box that consumers are using to watch content."

The ad-based model will most likely end up being cheaper than the current options ($7.99 a month or $79.99 for an entire year).