Disney Plus will raise its US prices in December as it launches a new ad-supported tier of its streaming service, the company said Wednesday. Hulu prices are going up, too.
Currently in the US, Disney Plus' ad-free subscription is $8 a month. Starting Dec. 8, the ad-free subscription will go up $3 a month to $11. Simultaneously, the new ad-based membership will launch at $8 a month, the same price that Disney Plus subscribers are paying now to watch ad free.
Annual memberships are also going up in price, though still offering a discount to monthly plans.
As for Hulu, the streaming service by itself costs $7 a month with ads and $13 a month ad-free. Starting Oct. 10, that'll rise to $8 a month with ads and $15 a month without them. Disney will also add a new $10-a-month bundled plan that combines Disney Plus and Hulu, both with ads, but without ESPN Plus. Disney has published tables detailing all the new rates.
Disney has been hinting for months that it could raise prices later this year, with CEO Bob Chapek suggesting twice that the launch of the ad-free tier might coincide with price hikes. December's increase will be the second for Disney Plus since it launched in late 2019. In March 2021, the service raised the price from $7 a month to its current $8 level.
Disney's strategy -- to price the new ad-supported version at the same cost that ad-free members are already paying -- comes as a surprise, though. The company had previously indicated that an ad-supported tier would be a cheaper alternative to entice price-sensitive people to sign up. A legit cheaper option would have been a relief to viewers crimped by inflation, but Disney Plus (like all streaming services) is grappling with a concern that the economics of streaming aren't sustainable as long as subscription prices are kept artificially low to compete against rivals.
Disney Plus' US price still deeply undercuts the $15.50 monthly fee for Netflix's most popular plan in the US, which lets you stream to two different devices simultaneously in high definition. In addition, Disney Plus allows all subscribers to stream to four devices and access 4K content at no extra cost -- features that Netflix charges $20 a month at its premium tier. (Netflix also plans to offer a cheaper tier with advertising, but it hasn't specified the monthly price yet.)
People who want to lock in a full year of Disney Plus without ads for the $80 annual rate can do so by signing up before Dec. 8. For existing subscribers, the new pricing for annual plans kicks in when their subscription is up for renewal on or after Dec. 8.
Among other services that have ad-supported options, Paramount Plus charges $5 for its tier with advertising, and $10 for the ad-free version. HBO Max is $10 a month if you watch with ads or $15 a month to strip out all commercials. Only Apple TV Plus, at $5 a month, is cheaper than Disney Plus among the main competitors.
As standalone services, Disney Plus, Hulu and ESPN Plus will all offer basic (with ads) and premium (no ads) tiers. ESPN Plus with ads will cost $10 a month or $100 a year.
Read more: How to Sign Up for the Disney Bundle (If You Already Have Hulu)
Correction, Aug. 11: An earlier version of this story misstated when Hulu price increases go into effect. Starting Oct. 10, Hulu's price will rise to $8 a month with ads and $15 a month without them.