Disney + Subscription Partners
As of early April 2020, Disney+ boasted over 50,000,000 paid subscribers after just five months of its launch in the United States, indicating an incredibly strong likelihood that the company will surpass its goal of 60,000,000 to 90,000,000 paid subscribers by 2024. Echoing Netflix's fortuitous and effective partnership with T-Mobile in 2017, Disney has made it a point to partner with a wide variety of corporations to offer new and existing Disney+ subscribers bundles, deals, and discounts. Ubiquitous media coverage of these Disney+ promotional deals, as well as Disney's leverage of its own massive existing media network, have proven to be successful marketing tools as the young streaming service expands to new users and markets.
Disney+ Pricing and Plans
- The Disney+ streaming service is offered for $6.99 per month or $69.99 per year, which comes out to $5.83 per month. A seven-day free trial is available to subscribers who opt for month-to-month service with no bundles.
- Annual gift subscriptions for Disney+ are $69.99 and can be sent to recipients via email.
- Disney+ may be bundled with the streaming services Hulu and ESPN+ for a combined price of $12.99 per month.
- Subscribers to this bundle receive access to 7,500 episodes and 500 movies on Disney+, 50,000 titles on Hulu, and exclusive sports content on ESPN+.
- The basic $12.99 per month bundle includes an ad-supported Hulu subscription, but subscribers can upgrade to an ad-free Hulu plan or Hulu + Live TV and still realize monthly savings. Existing subscribers to Hulu and ESPN+ are able to sign up for Disney+ and have their monthly charges for those subscriptions adjusted accordingly.
- Since ad-supported Hulu subscriptions cost $5.99 per month and ESPN+ costs $4.99 per month, Disney+ bundle subscribers save approximately $5.00 each month, similar to receiving ESPN+ access for free.
- Reach TV CEO Lynwood Bibbens credits Disney's "effective bundling" as a significant driver of growth for the streaming service, noting that the Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ bundle uniquely offers "something for the whole family".
Disney+ Promotional Partnerships
- In 2019, Verizon began offering new and existing 4G LTE and 5G Unlimited wireless customers and Fios Home Internet customers 12 months of Disney+ service for free in a "Disney+ on Us" promotion.
- Disney's partnership with Verizon, which also allowed customers to combine Disney+ on Us with a Disney+ bundle for $6 per month, accounted for 20% of Disney+ subscribers during the streaming service's initial launch.
- Disney+ also partnered with Delta Air Lines in 2019, offering select movies and TV episodes from Disney+ for free on personal seat-back screens in more than 700 of Delta's planes.
- A two-week free trial Disney+ sign up was also offered to Delta US SkyMiles members as well as general passengers traveling on certain Delta routes.
- Kellogg's cereal teamed up with Disney to promote free two-week trial Disney+ subscriptions to customers who purchased certain Kellogg's cereal brands, such as Apple Jacks, Corn Flakes, and Froot Loops.
- Disney and LG offered a full year of free Disney+ service to customers who purchased 2019 LG OLED TVs and six months of free Disney+ service to those who purchased 2019 LG NanoCell TVs at authorized locations in the US.
- Customers who purchased Google Chromebooks between November 2019 and January 2020 received three months of Disney+ streaming for free through a partnership between Disney+ and Google.
- Visa and Disney offered Disney Visa card holders promotional pricing offers on Disney+ subscriptions, including $20 off a two-year subscription and $40 off a three-year subscription.
- Disney actively solicits partnerships on its official Disney+ site, indicating its willingness to advertise affiliate Disney+ links on "most types of websites" given that they are "relevant to the Disney brand" and free from objectionable content.
Disney+ Marketing and Advertising
- Disney+ began its marketing efforts at the D23 Expo in August 2019, where it highlighted original Disney+ content, introduced Disney stars to the attending crowd, and showered participants with plus-sign-shaped confetti. Disney also offered attendees a promotional $4.00 per month subscription to Disney+ for three years.
- Since its D23 debut, many media outlets have noted that Disney+ has waged a particularly effective marketing campaign, with large amounts of coverage focusing on its many Disney+ subscription deals and Disney's vast multimedia network supplying consistent plugs for the service.
- University of South Carolina marketing professor Gene Del Vecchio compares Disney to "a giant pinball machine", with myriad divisions using various methods and campaigns to "drive up the ultimate score" in Disney+ marketing.
- Disney leveraged shows like Dancing With The Stars, Live With Kelly and Ryan, and The View on its channel ABC to promote the launch of Disney+, with a November 2019 episode of Dancing With The Stars featuring a Disney+ pitch from host Tom Bergeron that reached seven million viewers.
- Ricky Strauss, Content and Marketing President at Disney+, describes Disney's "kingdom-wide" marketing campaign for its streaming service as "unprecedented" in its synergy and magnitude.
- In addition to expo and TV advertising, Florida's Walt Disney World has buses covered in ads for Disney+, exclusive screening of Disney+ shows on Disney Cruise Lines, and Disney+ sign up opportunities at Disney retail stores.
- Guests visiting Disney World will also be presented with Disney+ advertising on billboards, trams in the amusement park's parking lots, and on Disney information channels in over 22,000 Disney hotel rooms.
- Disney also leveraged its social media presence to promote Disney+, creating a YouTube video in October 2019 featuring 20-second clips from every movie and TV series available on Disney+. The resulting video clocked in at over three hours in length and currently has more than 1,200,000 views.
- Promotional information regarding Disney+ was also shared across the majority of Disney's social media accounts, which feature more than one billion followers in total.
- On its own platform, Disney+ prominently features its own logo as well as its "highest-profile" media properties, including Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic. The Observer notes that this clearly and immediately conveys what Disney+ has to offer, in contrast to the more "nebulous" offerings of other streaming services.
- Disney has taken particular care to communicate that Disney+ is for viewers of all ages, specifically highlighting the live action Star Wars series The Mandalorian. The series cost approximately $15,000,000 per episode to produce and was promoted extensively on billboards, TV and radio commercials, and other digital advertising.
Disney+ Content Creation
- Disney+ has a wide variety of original content, with Adweek noting that the Disney+ premiere date in November 2019, which was ten days after the release of Frozen 2 and fewer than six weeks before the release of Star Wars: Episode IX, was "no coincidence".
- The Disney+ website features promotional content for many of its Disney+ Originals, including The Mandalorian, High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, Noelle, and Marvel's Hero Project.
- The Mandalorian, a "western-style" Star Wars series set after the decline of the Empire, was the world's most in-demand television series as of early December 2019, with 31.9 times more demand than other TV titles.
- The Mandalorian will return to Disney+ for a new season in October 2020. An additional Star Wars spin-off series scheduled to debut in 2021 and a number of upcoming Marvel miniseries are all expected to contribute to future swells in new Disney+ sign ups.
- Other original shows include Pixar in Real Life, a hidden camera show in which Pixar characters interact with people in the real world, and The World According to Jeff Goldblum, a National Geographic series in which Jeff Goldblum explores the world to investigate interesting topics.
- The COVID-19 outbreak forced Disney to reconsider the theatrical releases of several of its films, meaning that several upcoming films will soon be exclusive to Disney+, including the live action Lady and the Tramp remake, Frozen 2, Onward, and Artemis Fowl.