Media bundles are gaining momentum, which is good news for deal-seeking entertainment fans. As the Walt Disney Company prepares to debut its video-streaming service Disney+, it’s shoring up its defenses against industry leader Netflix by striking a major promotional deal with Verizon — echoing a tactic that music-streaming services have been pursuing in competition with one another.
Verizon announced on Tuesday that millions of its new and existing customers will receive a free year of Disney’s new streaming service — which will offer exclusive access to films from the Marvel, Pixar, and Star Wars franchises in addition to new TV shows and movies for a subscription rate of $6.99 a month — when it launches on November 12th. Eligible customers are those who subscribe to the telecoms giant’s 4G LTE, 5G unlimited wireless, or Fios home internet services, and users will be able to access Disney’s streaming service across various platforms that include iPhone, Android, Roku, and Xbox. Of its 100 million wireless customers, Verizon says that about 50 million are on unlimited plans eligible for the Disney+ promotion.
The move, coupled with Apple’s decision to gift one free year of its own upcoming video-streaming service Apple TV+ to anyone who buys a new Apple product, is expected to significantly weaken the longtime grip of existing players like Netflix and Amazon Prime on the market — especially because of Disney’s exclusive right to a suite of coveted blockbusters such as Avengers: Endgame and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Though financial terms of the Verizon-Disney deal were not disclosed, Verizon Consumer Group CEO Ronan Dunne said the company’s strategy is to team up with the best player in each industry to offer its customers “the best of what’s streaming,” rather than having “100 offers” across different services. The bundled deal helps both Disney and the wireless carrier more appealing to new users in two crowded markets.
Disney+ is due to release around 25 new original series and 10 original films in its first year, in addition to hosting hundreds of existing Disney titles such as The Lion King, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Toy Story, Frozen, and The Simpsons.