Disney+ now available for free for millions


Bundling will continue to grow but lower prices might impact content

Disney+ for free? Yes, but only in an ad-supported version and only for Charter Communications’ Spectrum TV Select customers.

Still, that's a lot of folks since Spectrum counts 32 million consumers in its customer database.

As part of the two companies’ coming to terms on a new distribution agreement, Charter video customers can now turn on their TVs and stream entertainment from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic, including movies, TV shows and original programs.

The only thing they need is a Xumo Stream Box or any type of Disney+ supported device (Roku, XBox, Chromecast, etc.)

“The inclusion of Disney+ alongside a curated lineup of our TV channels brings the best of both worlds from Disney’s unrivaled entertainment portfolio to Charter’s video customers,” said Justin Connolly, president of Platform Distribution, at The Walt Disney Company.

“Our goal has always been to meet consumers where they are, and these collective offerings will maximize value for Spectrum TV Select customers while simultaneously broadening the audience of our advertiser-supported streaming services.”

Move over, Netflix?

Is Disney trying to angle its way to king of the streaming mountain? It may be.

According to data presented by Statista, Disney+ is expected to count over 205 million hybrid subscribers of its ad-supported or subscription-based tiers by 2028, or three times more than its biggest rival, Netflix.

If you're someone who keeps up with the Joneses, the OnlyAccounts researchers pointed out that you may have to get used to ads. It found that over 85% of Disney+ subscribers will use the ad-supported plan by 2028.

You can expect even more bundling

Streaming subscription bundles spiked during the 2023 holiday season, but this latest move from The Mouse could signal even more.

Guess who's to blame -- or is it bless? It's you, the consumer. According to data from subscription analytics provider Antenna, about one-fourth of subscribers to major streaming services have canceled at least three of them over the past two years — nearly double the cancellations two years ago.

Dan Goman, CEO and founder of Ateliere Creative Technologies, a digital media supply chain solution that supports some of the largest digital streaming platforms in the world, told ConsumerAffairs that while this sounds like a victory for streaming subscribers, it could turn out to be the just the opposite.

“In my opinion, the overall impact on consumers is likely to be mixed, but perhaps mostly negative in the long run," Gorman said. "On the upside, bundling services will make things more affordable, offering a plethora of content at a better value, with more innovative package options than traditional cable bundles, including valuable third-party services – a trend we're already observing.

“However, there are significant drawbacks. While these large bundles often include a vast array of content, much of it may not align with consumer preferences."

Goman says where streaming users will feel the pinch is in not being able to choose all the content they want, coupled with the absence of à la carte options.

"Consumers will be forced to completely change their content access approach - and this will happen very rapidly.”

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