The Age of Ads: Loyal subscribers, fans bracing for Disney +’s use of commercials

In November 2019, the Walt Disney Company debuted its first-ever streaming service, Disney+, complete with movies and television shows, to rave reviews.

And now, nearly three years after its launch, the company finds itself at a crossroads of a big financial decision with this ever-popular platform.

On Dec. 8, Disney will implement advertisements onto their streaming handle, and in doing so, increase prices for ad-free customers. It’s the way of the world these days in the multimedia space, and with a subscriber base that topped 27 million in Year One alone, and growing numbers ever since, it’s clear Disney is looking to cash in.

The add-on service will start at $7.99 monthly for basic subscribers and $10.99 monthly for premium. This will benefit profitability for the company. However, a lot of subscribers are not happy with the new revelations.

“I’m not supportive of the idea of Disney+ adding the ads,” said Melanie Velasco, a Disney+ subscriber. “There’s a lot of children watching and sometimes parents use that stream to distract their kids while they get things done inside or outside of their house.”

Velasco has experience working with kids at a daycare center and she understands the value that the handle has without ads, not only for parents but for teachers. Even though displaying ads may cause a few struggles with entertaining children, Velasco still does not think she will upgrade to premium.

“After they make these changes I will probably stick with the ads because I still have some patience to wait,” she said. “With all of the other streams I currently pay for, I am not a fan of paying more for no ads.”

Although some individuals refuse to upgrade, there are customers who do not mind these changes and would rather pay extra for ad-free services. Florida International University student Daniella Hakim is a Disney enthusiast and is part of the group that does not like ads.

“As someone who has just recently started a subscription with Disney+, I personally would upgrade to the ad-free option,” Hakim said.

This comes as no surprise now that popular streaming handles, such as Hulu, Peacock, and HBO Max already display ad-supported tiers and have premium subscribers supporting them.

“I’ve upgraded on platforms like Hulu as well and going ad-free makes a big difference,” Hakim said. “It’s very convenient. I’d rather pay a bit extra each month than sit through five minutes of ads per episode or film.”

Even though Hakim would pay for no ads, she understands why some customers feel differently about it.

“Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s worth it to upgrade if you’re an avid Disney fan, but for your average consumer I wouldn’t say it’s worth it,” she said. “There are other platforms like Netflix that have a more comprehensive selection of TV shows and movies with no ads.”

In a report by Statista, as of this year, Disney+ has 152.1 million subscribers worldwide. It has exceedingly surpassed the number it made the first year which was 26.5 million.

Now, only one question remains, will this increment or reduce subscriptions?

Both Hakim and Velasco believe that their numbers will not be negatively impacted because of the popularity and worldwide phenomenon that is Disney.

“They might lose a few members, but not enough to affect them,” Velasco said. “Although I do not like the idea, the majority love Disney and it’s the only stream that has all their movies and shows, along with the most-watched, like Star Wars and Marvel.”

Aside from Star Wars and Marvel, Disney+ has added more to its listing of shows and movies. They recently included the famous competitive television series “Dancing with the Stars,” which ran for more than 10 years on ABC. Additionally, more is set to come after the transition to ads, such as “PeterPan and Wendy,” “The Muppets Mayhem,” “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” season 3, “American Born Chinese” and “Percy Jackson and the Olympians.” This new selection in their list could potentially bring more people to join the Disney+ family and increase revenue for the company.

Disney+ will also be offering a new Disney bundle plan with Hulu and ESPN+. Kareem Daniel, chairman of Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution emphasized how this will benefit consumers.

“With our new ad-supported Disney+ offering an expanded lineup of plans across our entire streaming portfolio, we will be providing greater consumer choice at a variety of price points to cater to the diverse needs of our viewers and appeal to an even broader audience,” Daniel said in a press release statement. ”Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ feature unparalleled content and viewing experiences and offer the best value in streaming today, with over 100,00 movie titles, TV episodes, original shows, sports and live events collectively.”

The three streaming handles will continue to have their standalone plans, while also offering various Disney bundle plans. Subscribers have the choice of the Disney bundle basic (with ads) starting at $9.99, basic (with ads) starting at $12.99 and premium (no ads) starting at $19.99.

Hakim believes that having numerous plans could benefit not only Disney but also a subscriber, such as herself. She is considering this new upgraded bundle plan.

“Even though I just signed up to Disney+ the bundle plan seems more convincing to me, Hakim said. “I already pay $12.99 a month for Hulu’s ad-free service alone, I wouldn’t mind paying a few more dollars to get all three.”

Maria Lozada is a junior at Florida International University majoring in Digital Broadcast. She has a passion for writing and editing videos. She looks forward to graduating and pursuing a career in the media industry.