Although details of the new advertising-supported option for Disney+ are not firm yet in terms of monthly pricing, commercial loads, and other ad specifics, the Disney streaming platform will be a factor in this upfront period.
“We're expecting a very positive reaction from advertisers overall,” said Bob Chapek, chief executive officer of Walt Disney, during a Disney earnings phone call with analysts on Wednesday. “This is a combination of our excitement around the Disney+ ad tier.”
He added: “[Advertisers] have been asking for this for years,” with regard to advertising availability on Disney+. Hulu will also be a key piece of Disney's offerings, “which has been very strong for us at the same time.”
Chapek said its advertisers increasingly are looking for multiple platforms for “a broader reach” than that of its linear TV networks.
He also mused about the day that ESPN, its mothership live, linear cable TV sports network, will make a major transitional move to becoming a live TV streaming network.
“We're very conscious of our ability to go more aggressively into the DTC area of ESPN... We know that at some point when it's going to be good for our shareholders, we'll be able to fully go into an ESPN D2C... But at that point, obviously, that will have ramifications on immediate cash flow that we get from our legacy linear networks," Chapek said.
This would be different than the current situation with ESPN+, a Disney streaming subscription service, which now has 22 million subscribers.
That service has exclusive on-demand content, analysis programs and a limited number of live games. ESPN+ does not air live games that are being aired on the bigger ESPN cable channels, for example.