The Disney Plus price hike news just imbued me with the spirit of Succession's Logan Roy, as I'm staring at Disney and thinking "you're not serious people." Yes, while it's not wise to bet against these kinds of decisions (Netflix's password sharing crackdown is now seen as a win), this looks like a bad idea.
First of all, consider the optics. Disney is a part of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, the body that's refusing to give up modest concessions to writers and actors in the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. And at the same time, Disney's now putting in a 27% price hike on its own service, as if to say "pay us more to not pay our talent more."
But that's practically beside the point here. This price hike is the big reveal something was very wrong with Disney Plus all along, and it's probably going to push people to cancel.
|Service||Current monthly price||As of October 12, 2023|
|Disney Plus (no ads)||$10.99||$13.99|
|Disney Plus (with ads)||$7.99||$7.99|
|Hulu (no ads)||$14.99||$17.99|
|Hulu (with ads)||$7.99||$7.99|
Disney Plus doubles down on price hikes
As the Walt Disney Company announced yesterday, the advertisement-free versions of Disney Plus and Hulu will both go up by $3 per month, with Disney Plus moving to $13.99 per month and Hulu hitting $17.99. Both prices change on October 12th.
That's a clever move for Disney Plus, as it's six days after the start of Loki season 2 — the most anticipated event of its entire calendar. Yes, some were hyped for the massively-delayed The Mandalorian season 3. I know. I just try and forget that hodge-podge season.
An extra $3 per month is merely annoying — and not laughable — on its own, but the story is bigger than that. Less than a year before this change, last December, Disney Plus hit users with another $3 per month price increase for its ad-free tier.
That means the no-ads Disney Plus has gone up in price by 75% in less than a year. It's the kind of price hikes that make it perfectly clear its original $6.99 per month price was only meant to get us in and hooked before they raised rates.
But what exactly has Disney Plus given us in those last eight months?
The Disney Plus drought problem
Disney Plus' biggest problem, at least from my point of view, is its lack of anything truly great and exclusive so far in 2023. Right now, it's practically sitting on my chopping block, as I wait to see what I think of Star Wars: Ahsoka's first episodes.
As mentioned above, Mando's third season was terribly uneven, to the point where I'd call the once-great Star Wars series "mid." I'm not exactly optimistic about Ashoka, either, as it seems built for the sect of the Star Wars fandom that knows and loves its animated shows Clone Wars and Rebels.
Marvel's Secret Invasion, the other big-name release? Also a dud. I've heard some people try and fight for it, but the overall consensus is that it's a miss. A bit too much of its story was told in conversations about the past, and not enough tension in the present. Marvel's Andor it certainly was not.
Aside from that? Disney Plus delivered smaller titles that were no less worthy of viewing, such as The Proud Family: Louder And Prouder's second season and The Muppets Mayhem. No knocks to those fans — I'm just trying to make sure I cover the original exclusives on Disney Plus.
Because the other stuff that was "new" on Disney Plus has ranged from some good movies from theaters (Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3) to the other movies from theaters (Avatar: The Way of Water, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania).
So, maybe Disney Plus execs would say I'm under-valuing the not-new content, such as its massive library. I'd argue, though, that streaming is more of a "what have you done for me lately?" industry — especially when Disney's removing titles like Willow. And Disney Plus hasn't hit a home run in a while.
That's no moon, it's Disney's version of Netflix
This news, though, comes in the shadow of a story you may have missed: there's going to be a new app (to be named later) that combines Disney Plus and Hulu, coming before 2024. Clearly, this play is meant to position the latest challenger to Netflix's army.
While CEO Bob Iger says Disney Plus and Hulu will continue as separate services, bundling (in all forms) is back as everyone looks to build the proper value proposition. Look at Showtime becoming just a part of Paramount Plus, and Warner Bros. Discovery bottling Discovery Plus' most popular content alongside HBO Max in the still-too-simply-named Max.
On top of that, Disney Plus will be copying Netflix on the password-sharing crackdown front, as reported by The Wrap. Combined with the 75% price hike in less than 1 year, this all suggests that Disney Plus (much like its competitors) is conceding that its original strategy was wrong.
Yes, businesses evolve and climates change, but customers may feel compelled to cancel and come back later. This practices, 'churn' as it's called in the biz, is what companies want to avoid, but it's customers' only weapon when it's time to fight back. It's not like we want to skip Loki season 2, but do you need to be watching it week to week?
Outlook: Seriously, think about canceling Disney Plus
The bait-and-switch of a $7.99 per month service costing $13.99 per month in less than 12 months feels exceptionally flawed. Yes, we could just use the ad-supported Disney Plus, which is staying at $7.99 per month (its introductory price from last December). But Pixar movies aren't meant to have ad-breaks.
How was a second price hike in such a short window ever considered "the way?" Maybe some parents and kid-ults who rewatch the back catalogue are locked in on Disney Plus, but this feels like a great time for the rest of us to hit cancel.