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Volume 26 No. 28
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Disney+ Price Shows Company's Aggressive Move In Streaming

Disney+ will launch in the U.S. on Nov. 12 and cost $6.99 per month, "nearly half" of Netflix's standard $12.99 plan, with the subscription VOD service representing Disney's "biggest and most aggressive move into the video-streaming wars," according to Todd Spangler of VARIETY. By pricing it well below Netflix, Disney is "betting it can rapidly drive up Disney+ customer base with a mélange of content that appeals to multiple demographics." Disney+ in the U.S. also "will be available for an optional annual plan" for $69.99 per year. Disney+ at launch will "include 7,500 episodes of current and off-air TV shows; 25 original series and 10 original movies and specials; 400 library movie titles; and 100 recent theatrical films releases." Disney Senior Exec VP & CFO Christine McCarthy said that the company "expects 60 million to 90 million subscribers for Disney+ around the world" by the end of FY '24. Additionally, Disney Direct-to-Consumer & Int'l Groups Chair Kevin Mayer said that Disney at some point "will 'likely' deliver a discounted bundle combining Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu," but he "didn't provide any specifics." Meanwhile, McCarthy said that ESPN+ is "expected to have 8 million-12 million subs" by FY '24 (VARIETY.com, 4/11). Disney execs said that they "see opportunities" to take ESPN+ to Latin America and are "looking into international expansion" of Hulu (REUTERS, 4/11).

BEST FOR LAST: RECODE's Peter Kafka noted Disney "saved the crucial pricing and launch date details for the very end of a 2-hour, 45-minute long event aimed at investors" (RECODE.net, 4/11). CNN's Frank Pallotta noted some of the investors and media members at the event "gasped when the price was announced." The $6.99 per month plan "undercuts the price of Netflix, and that's partly the point." Disney "needs to gain as many subscribers as quickly as it can" (RELIABLE SOURCES, 4/11).

COMPLIMENT, NOT REPLACEMENT: Bob Iger on Friday reinforced that ESPN+ is an “extra service" for viewers and that it is "not designed to replace the traditional business model." Iger: "It’s an add-on, it’s a place you can go to get more and engage more.” He said, “We believe there are sports fans out there that do want more ESPN and want it in this fashion, which basically means easily watched across devices, over-the-top, not connected.” ESPN+ “gives us the ability to have a platform and a relationship with the consumer that should the traditional model start failing on us, which is not yet” (“Squawk on the Street,” CNBC, 4/12).