Come March 26, 2021, Disney+ is going to ask you to pay a dollar more each month for its streaming service. According to The Verge, Disney+ will charge $7.99 per month (or $79.99 per year) for a subscription, up from $6.99 currently. Additionally, you can expect to see the Disney Bundle get a price hike as well. The bundle includes Disney+, Hulu, ESPN Plus, and will cost $13.99 per month come spring, up from its current price of $12.99.
This is the very first time that Disney+ has raised its price since launching in November 2019, and sees it following in the steps of rival Netflix which increased its fee to $14 per month in the United States earlier this year. Given Netflix isn't bundled with anything else, Disney+ arguably remains the better deal, but with each service having unique content, it's hard to compare them like for like. Netflix has a deeper roster of original fare, but Disney has swathes of child-friendly content.
It's a balancing act for the company that has hooked numerous viewers to shows like The Mandalorian, The Simpsons, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and other titles in its extensive catalog. Like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, Disney is investing heavily in creating original content for Disney+ and the money to pay for it has to come from somewhere. Having its theme parks business battered by COVID-19 means that's not an option for keeping its steaming ambitions afloat.
D is for "dominate" — Disney's gorilla strategy is paying off. According to Deadline, the company is reportedly planning to spend a massive $14 to $16 billion annually on original content between now and 2024. If it yields the same kind of enviable success the service has enjoyed so far, Disney+ could reach around 260 million subscribers by that year. Netflix is trying to keep up in this marathon, too — Deadline reports it spent around $17 billion on network content in 2020.
Yet another rival, Hulu, is trying to make its own mark in the streaming wars and is expected to have 50 to 60 million subscribers by 2024. It's a crowded arena that's getting even more crowded thanks to likes of nascent services likes NBCUniversal's Peacock, and other upstarts like Apple spending some $6 billion on new content.
D is also for "diversify" — Streaming has been a boon for Disney's fortunes, which have taken strain during the pandemic. Features like Disney+ watch parties have proven a hit with subscribers (especially younger ones) and merchandising its IP with products like the Baby Yoda mask has helped compensate for lost revenue elsewhere.
One of the reasons for the $1 price hike is that Disney confirms that its streaming content will come ad-free. Announcing a price hike can be tricky and often leads to backlash from consumers who don't want to spend more money, but given the quality and quantity of Disney's offering, we suspect most people will simply suck it up. And it knows that one particular demographic — parents — love its streaming platform and won't mind paying an extra dollar come spring if it means a little quiet time for them.