In 2023 inflation is forcing cord cutters to reconsider their streaming. Increasingly most cord cutters are only paying for 3 to 4 streaming services. Beyond that cord cutters are increasingly turning to free ad-supported streaming services for TV shows, movies, and live content.
To address this changing landscape, many major TV companies have picked up free streaming services over the last few years. Paramount purchased Pluto TV, Fox bought Tubi, and NBCUniversal picked up Xumo TV, to name a few. One very large company, though, hasn’t dived into the world of free ad-supported streaming, and that is Disney.
Disney has offered a few token titles here and there to free streaming services. Though unlike Warner Bros. Discovery’s recent deal with Roku and Tubi it’s a fraction of their catalog.
Increasingly media companies are using free streaming to promote paid services, new shows, and more. Paramount+ uses Pluto TV to show the first episodes or older seasons of hit shows to encourage viewers to subscribe to Paramount+.
This leaves Disney as an oddball in the world of cord cutting with no free ad-supported streaming service of its own. Also, no major deal to bring a large part of their catalog, even if it’s just older content, to a free ad-supported service.
So this leaves two options for Disney. First, partner with an already existing live TV streaming service like Pluto TV. This option will let Disney very quickly jump into the world of ad-supported streaming. The downside is they will have to split the ad revenue with the service they partner with.
The second option is for Disney to launch their own free ad-supported streaming service. Disney recently launched an ad-supported tier on Disney+ and has a long history of running online ads with Hulu. Using this existing technology could help Disney quickly launch a service.
One option Disney has is to bring back a free tier on Hulu. For years Hulu offered a free option full of ads but limited content. Now could be the time to bring back Hulu’s free option to help sell subscriptions to Disney+, ESPN+, and Hulu.
For now, it will be interesting to see what Disney does. For years Disney was one of the more forward-thinking TV companies. They were one of the first brands to allow its channels on live TV streaming services. Disney also opened up its catalog to services like Netflix long before some other companies did.
For now, we will have to wait and see what Disney does as it looks at possibly licensing its content to other services.