Verizon customers with the carrier’s unlimited data plan will get a free year of Disney+, an aggressive move by the streaming service to get the platform on as many screens as possible. The deal, which coincides with the service’s November 12 launch, will include new Fios Home Internet and 5G Home internet customers.
It looks like a win-win for the two companies, according to Dave Heger, a senior equity analyst at Edward Jones. He noted that the partnership would ensure a large number of consumers have guaranteed access to Disney+, which could help bulk up its long-term user base.
“For Verizon, it’s a great way to retain existing subscribers and attracting new ones, as there seems to be a lot of interest in Disney+,” Heger said. “For Disney, this mean a huge potential base of subscribers who may at least consider signing up for it, and Disney also wants to be able to show that there has been a rapid and broad acceptance of the product. I think Disney could end up with a pretty good paying userbase for Disney+ at the end of next year when the free year ends.”
That said, Heger warned that the influx of initial Disney+ subscribers, which is already expected to have a strong following at launch, means that the streaming service must ensure it works without a hitch. A solid interface, fast streaming, and a lack of glitches are of paramount importance, according to Heger.
A Verizon spokesperson declined to comment on the financial aspects of the deal, which were not disclosed in the press release. A Disney spokesperson did not return a request for comment.
Regardless, Disney+ is going to have plenty of competition as the streaming market continues to become more crowded. Apple is set to launch its own Apple TV+ streaming service on November 1, and the tech company is also giving the service away to a large number of consumers. The company previously announced that it would gift a year of free Apple TV+ access to customers who purchase most new Apple devices.
With competition from Apple’s Apple TV+, WarnerMedia’s HBO Max, and NBCUniversal’s Peacock looming on the horizon, Disney has announced a variety of deals over the last few months to entice consumers to adopt Disney+ early. Disney announced a Disney+ bundle that would include ESPN+ and the ad-supported version of Hulu in August, and the company also held a short-term promotion where customers that purchased two years of the service would get a third year for free.
Even disregarding the free subscriptions, Disney+ and Apple TV+ will noticeably undercut all the large legacy streaming services, as a subscription to each will cost $6.99 per month or $4.99 per month, respectively.
Although Disney+ will launch with original series such as “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series,” and highly-anticipated “Star Wars” live-action series “The Mandalorian,” Heger expected the platform’s strong library of legacy content to be its strongest selling point, at least for the first year. Though most Disney content has been available on various streaming services over the years, Disney+ will mark the first time most of it has been consolidated on a single platform.
It’s unlikely that Verizon had to grapple with AT&T, one of its largest competitors, for the Disney+ deal. AT&T’s WarnerMedia is set to launch its own HBO Max streaming service next year, which will directly compete with Disney+, and it’s unlikely that Disney would want to partner with one of its streaming rivals.