Disney has kicked off the marketing campaign for its highly anticipated streaming service Disney+ with a steeply discounted offer to lock in subscribers for the next three years.
Until Sept. 2, members of Disney’s D23 fan club can sign up for a three-year subscription to Disney+ for just $46.99 per year, the company said Monday. Over three years, that works out to $140.97, which is less than $4 per month.
Disney’s regular annual rate for Disney+ is $69.99 a year, so subscribers to the discounted rate will save 33% off the standard yearly price, or $69 over the course of three years. It’s 44% cheaper than Disney+’s $6.99 monthly rate.
The subscription will automatically renew at the end of three years at whatever the annual subscription price is at that time, according to Disney’s terms. It costs nothing to join D23 as a general member, but requires annual dues for higher-tier members to receive additional discounts and perks.
The streaming wars are heating up
The steep discount, first offered to D23 Expo attendees last weekend, comes as several new companies beef up or prepare to roll out new OTT offerings to go head-to-head with streaming giants like Netflix. For Disney, the discounted rate—which has a lower monthly close than any other major SVOD service—will almost surely mean being a loss leader to get a leg up in the streaming wars with a slate of paying subscribers, but will also help reduce subscriber churn rates, which are expected to increase as new streaming services like Apple TV+ and HBO Max enter the space.
Interest in the promotion was so high Tuesday that the D23 fan club website crashed due to the surge in traffic, a Disney spokesperson confirmed Tuesday afternoon.
“We are aware of an issue impacting access to the Disney’s D23 Fan Club website due to the heavy volume of traffic that the site is experiencing,” the spokesperson said. “We are working to quickly resolve the issue and apologize for the inconvenience.”
The discount isn’t the only way Disney is trying to encourage interested customers to sign up: Earlier this month, the company announced a bundled monthly subscription of Disney+, ESPN+ and the ad-supported version of Hulu, which will cost $12.99 a month. On its own, Disney+ has a monthly price tag of $6.99.
Locking in subscribers will be key
Streaming services are looking for various ways to try to reduce high churn rates among consumers as they test out new services and find which products they like best. Many streaming services are investing heavily in children’s content, and some are offering discounted annual subscriptions to reduce month-to-month churn.
Disney has indicated that it is going all out on marketing for Disney+ before the service debuts in November. In a call with investors this month, Disney CEO Bob Iger said that Disney+ will be marketed across all of Disney’s platforms, including to D23 members, Disney co-branded credit card holders, annual pass holders and visitors of Disney hotel properties.
“It is going to be treated as the most important product that the company has launched since, I don’t know, certainly during my tenure in the job, which is quite a long time,” Iger told investors. “The opportunities are tremendous to market this, and I feel good about some of the creative that I’ve already seen.”
Last week, the social media platforms of various Disney properties rolled out a coordinated “moving day” campaign to emphasize their respective moves to the upcoming streaming service.
At launch, Disney+ will have more than 7,500 library episodes of content, more than two dozen original series and hundreds of library and original movies. The service will also include 600 hours of content from National Geographic and 300 hours of content from Fox Studio’s library, the company has previously said.
Down the line, the service will become the exclusive home of Disney and Pixar titles, including films and programming from the Star Wars and Marvel franchises.