Disney+ launches $8 ad-supported plan, raises price on ad-free streaming

The company announced the price hike for the Premium plan in August.

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If you want to keep using Disney+ at the same price you've been paying each month since March last year, you'll need to put up with some ads starting today. The Disney+ Basic plan is now live and it costs $8 per month. To keep using the streaming service without ads, you'll need to pay $11 per month, which marks an increase of $3. That's now called the Premium plan and an annual membership costs $110.

Unlike Netflix's ad-supported plan, Disney+ Basic offers access to the platform's full library as well as high-quality streaming in 4K, Dolby Vision and the IMAX Enhanced format. The Netflix's Basic with Ads plan, which went live last month, costs $7. It limits streams to a resolution of 720p and some titles aren't available. However, neither company's ad-supported plan includes offline viewing. Disney+ Basic currently lacks other features that are available to Premium subscribers, including GroupWatch, SharePlay and Dolby Atmos.

Disney does offer some streaming bundles. For $10 per month, you'll get access to Disney+ Basic and Hulu with Ads. You'll pay $6 less per month than you would by subscribing to them individually. If you want to include ESPN+ in your bundle, there are three options. If you don't mind dealing with ads on all three services, you can subscribe to them for $13 per month. For an extra $2 per month, Disney+ will ditch the ads. For access to ad-free versions of all three streaming services, you'll pay $20 per month.

Disney announced the price changes before it canned former CEO Bob Chapek and brought back Bob Iger, who oversaw the Disney+ launch as well as the takeovers of Fox studios and cable channels, Pixar, Marvel and LucasFilm. Although the total number of Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ subscriber numbers rose to 235 million under Chapek's watch, the company has dealing with some business difficulties.

Disney lost $1.5 billion on the streaming side of the business last quarter, more than doubling the operating loss of $630 million from the same quarter in 2021. It attributed the steeper loss to higher production and technology costs, as well as greater marketing expenses. The introduction of the ad-supported plan and Premium price hike could help to make the streaming business profitable, though consumers may have to give the company more of their money or time to do so.