In its latest tactic to push uptake of its Disney Bundle by promoting it as a comparative bargain, Disney is hiking the price of a solo ESPN+ subscription by 43%, from $6.99 to $9.99 per month.
The move is part of a multi-pronged push to reach its goal of hitting 230 million to 260 million Disney+ subscribers by 2024 — an objective considered crucial to Disney’s stock performance. As of the end of Disney’s most recent fiscal quarter in early April, Disney+ had 137.7 million subscribers and ESPN+ had 22.3 million, both inclusive of bundle users. Disney+ gained 8 million subscribers in the period, exceeding analysts’ expectations of 5.2 million.
The $3 ESPN+ price increase is both the largest yet for ESPN+ and an unusually big hike for any streamer at one time. To minimize churn, streaming services generally up prices by just $1 at a time.
Uptake of the bundle has been higher among consumers who want ESPN+ than those not interested in the sports streaming network, and the ESPN+ price move seems calculated to motivate even more ESPN+ users to opt for paying slightly more per month to get the full bundle.
It means that the bundle, which includes ad-supported Hulu as well as Disney+ and ESPN+ for $13.99 per month, will now cost just $4 more than ESPN+ alone. (The bundle with ad-free Hulu is $19.99 per month.) ESPN+’s price was raised by $1 in 2020 and again in mid 2021.
Disney pushes the bundle option on the ESPN+ home page, relegating the solo ESPN+ option to a small link (above).
Raising ESPN+’s price should also serve to highlight and help cover the significant additional content investments Disney has made in ESPN+ in recent months.
Those include the ability to simulcast “Monday Night Football” on the streamer as well as the ABC network (the deal renewal is costing $2.6 billion per year), exclusive streaming rights to Wimbledon and Australian Open Grand Slam matches, National Hockey League games and PGA Tour events.
The NHL.TV out-of-market and PGA Tour Live packages that are now included in ESPN+ previously cost $9.99 or more each on a solo basis, notes CNBC.
Disney’s other recent moves to boost revenue and help reach its Disney+ subscriber growth objective in the face of slowed growth in North America in particular include integrating the Disney Bundle in its Hulu + Live TV offers and upping their prices by $5, eliminating the solo Hulu + Live TV option even for existing subscribers; introducing a $2.99-per-month Disney+ add-on for Hulu subscribers; and launching another bundle that pairs National Geographic content — including its print magazines — with subscriptions to the streaming service.