In just about a week, Disney will finally release its highly anticipated streaming service Disney Plus in the US. The service, which was first announced in 2017, will debut with over 600 TV shows and movies, and will allow users access to all Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic properties. Disney has announced that on top of this, users will also have access to original and exclusive content, with most notable cases being the Mandalorian, the Obi Wan Kenobi miniseries, and a plethora of new Marvel shows.
While all of this sounds like a pop culture paradise, there’s a new catch. According to a CNBC report, Disney has backtracked on its initial promises of having the streaming service be entirely ad-free. The company had originally maintained a stance that like its competition Netflix, Disney Plus would have no ads. However, now the company has agreed to allow an ad for Starz Entertainment, according to the Verge.
The ad will reportedly appear after signing up for Disney Plus on Androids and computer browsers and will prompt users to sign up for the Starz network as well. Disney has clarified this advert will only appear at sign-up, and the platform itself will still be ad-free.
The sudden addition of the ad comes from months-long contract re-negotiations between Disney and Starz in order to regain properties like Star Wars: The Force Awakens for the Disney Plus launch. Disney had already mentioned the re-negotiations earlier in the year, hinting at the complicated and expensive legal process that comes with dealing in licensing contracts. In a report by the Hollywood Reporter, Disney has spent approximately $150 million just in paying licensing fees to third parties, all to have properties that had previously been licensed out appear on Disney Plus on launch day. This licensing problem is not unique to Disney; other new streaming competitors such as NBCUniversal and WarnerMedia are also running into the same problem.
Disney Plus is open for preorders and will launch on November 12, 2019, for $6.99 (USD) a month, or for $69.99 (USD) per year.