Disney Plus with ads is live — and it beats Netflix

(L to R) the Disney Plus logo on a phone screen and the Netflix logo on a TV
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Out of the gate, Disney Plus with ads has already shown Netflix how its done — in three different ways. 

The first, and most noteworthy win is that Disney has launched Disney Plus Basic ($7.99 per month) without any gaps in the library. A press email boasts that "At launch, Disney+ Basic subscribers will enjoy the full content catalog and key product features that are also offered on a Disney+ Premium plan." 

That's in stark contrast to how Netflix with ads was missing shows and movies. At launch we saw some of the best Netflix shows — such as The Good Place — unavailable if you were getting Netflix Basic with ads. And right now, the #1 movie on Netflix (Bullet Train) isn't available on Netflix with ads. That kind of gap makes Netflix look less like one of the best streaming services.

Other titles that are "locked" inside Netflix's ad-free tiers include the new Boss Baby Christmas special, the Sony comic book movie Morbius and the Minions specials. This issue likely stems from unfinished contracts between Netflix and the partners it licenses shows and movies from; Netflix has said it's working solving this.

Then, there's the other big reason why we'd consider Disney Plus with ads before Netflix with ads: streaming quality. Netflix is only serving ads for its Netflix Basic tier, which is capped at 720p streaming. Disney Plus on the other hand, isn't limiting streaming quality — offering 4K streams as available — for those subscribing to Disney Plus Basic.

Lastly? Disney Plus Basic doesn't limited the number of concurrent streams, allowing up to 4 devices at the same time. Netflix Basic with ads cuts you off after the first stream.

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Disney Plus Basic vs Netflix Basic with ads
PlanPricePicture qualitySimultaneous streams
Netflix Basic with ads$6.99 per monthUp to 720p HD1
Disney Plus Basic (has ads)$7.99 per monthUp to 4KUp to 4

Analysis: Disney Plus with ads feels like a different kind of "deal"

Pricing is where things get complicated. Netflix Basic with ads is also $1 cheaper, at $6.99. But with all its content gaps, that's not a huge differential.

There is one place where Disney Plus' ad-supported version may not be seen as better. It arrives only to let you keep the current $7.99 per month pricing. Anyone who doesn't switch to this plan (or didn't lock in discounted pricing — I warned you), is spending $3 more per month to keep the ad-free Disney Plus.

This is all a matter of optics. Both ad-supported plans offer $3 discounts, but Netflix Basic with ads didn't arrive alongside a price hike. Instead, it was presented as a way to save. And the ad-supported Disney Plus is only here as a way to avoid spending even more on Disney Plus.

Fortunately, Netflix is considering more ad-supported tiers, so these flaws may not be here for too long.

Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.