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12 August 2022
Disney+ sees benefits in lower ad load
TV channels, services, programmesPricing strategyStrategy
Disney+, the streaming platform owned by The Walt Disney Company, believes that a lower hourly ad load can enhance the viewer experience while helping boost the price of inventory.
Disney+ boasted 152.1 million subscribers at the end of the last quarter, up by 14.4 million compared with the previous three-month trading period.
The new ad-supported layer for this platform will be called Disney+ Basic, and launch in the US on December 8th, with plans for an international roll out next year.
On that same date, the monthly price of Disney+ Premium, its ad-free version will rise from $7.99 to $10.99.
A deliberately conservative strategy
Bob Chapek, CEO of the Walt Disney Co., said it will be cautious in terms of initial ad load, based on the logic it would be easier to increase, rather than decrease, ad loads.
“We are walking before we run in terms of seeing what the market will bear in terms of an ad load. So we’re going in very conservative upfront,” he said on an earnings call.
It was reported earlier this year that Disney+ would limit its ad load to four minutes per hour, but Chapek told investors it was in a test-and-learn phase.
“We believe that there’s probably going to be some more ultimate elasticity in that as well as we go forward,” he said.
Lower ad loads, stronger CPMs
Advertiser demand for Disney+ inventory has been strong, according to Chapek, reflecting the fact this platform houses many “premium brands in content and streaming”.
Lower ad frequency will provide a “great experience for viewers”, he said. It also helped Disney+ secure an impressive cost-per-thousand (CPMs) at its parent company’s recent upfront.
“This approach coupled with strong advertiser demand translated into Disney+ earning industry-leading CPM rates at the most recent upfront,” said Chapek.
When Disney+ started selling ad space, agency executives reported that CPMs were in the $50 to $60 range, which were at the higher end of the industry spectrum.
A different offer than Hulu
Disney is a majority owner of streaming platform Hulu, but Disney+ will operate on a different tech platform than its sister service.
Chapek said that Hulu can provide some valuable lessons when it comes to tactics like addressable advertising, but added that Disney+ will have a distinct proposition.
Christine McCarthy, the Walt Disney Company’s chief financial officer, reported that about two-thirds of Hulu’s 46.2 million subscribers use its ad-supported version.
“We can’t anticipate that we’d have exactly the same behavior because it’s a different demo that has Disney+ versus Hulu, but that’s the best indication that we have,” she said. “We expect the ad tier to be popular and we also expect some people to want to stay with ad-free.”