It Has Begun, Disney+'s First Big Price Increase Kicks In Friday

Prince increases have never been a rare occurrence in the history of cable and satellite subscriptions, and even though Netflix and other streaming platforms often feel like a perfect non-linear alternative, such services have not been without such price hikes themselves. The third-biggest competitor in the domestic streaming game, Disney+, is currently setting up to drop its first big subscription uptick on customers this weekend. To be expected, not everyone is happy about such things, but it's going to happen no matter what, and not without reason.

Starting on Friday, Disney+ will be increasing its monthly subscription rate from $6.99 a month to $7.99 a month. The bundle with Hulu and ESPN+ will also reflect it, jumping from $12.99 each month to $13.99. For those who like to pay the flat year price, that adjusted discount comes out to around $80 annually.

First announced by Disney+ in December, that $1 spike comes not even a year and a half into the streaming service's existence. The updated charge obviously isn't a drastically different amount, but customers can only hope that this early alteration will be enough to cover Disney+'s bases for the foreseeable future, lest the price go up another dollar or two next year, and again the year after that. There are only so many price hikes that streaming customers can deal with, especially as new platforms continue to debut.

While the announcements didn't coincide, Disney+'s price increase will kick in just days after Disney revealed its altered plan for future releases, which will bring the MCU's Black Widow to streaming as a "Premier Access" title, meaning subscribers will need to shell out even more money to watch it (and other films) the day they come out. Because of that timing, a lot of people might see this as Disney trying to squeeze every last dollar out of its faithful fanbase. And while there are probably whispers of truth to that – let's not forget ESPN+ also raised the price of UFC pay-per-views in 2020 – the price hike is largely happening to support the streaming service's massive slate of upcoming projects.

At the time Disney+ announced its altered subscription pricing, the company also unveiled a slew of new projects while also offering up clarification on the smorgasbord of yet-to-release TV shows and movies that audiences already knew about. An almost shocking number of those new projects will fall under the Star Wars and Marvel umbrellas – from the Mandalorian spinoffs to the Lando limited series to Samuel L. Jackson's Secret Invasion to the I Am Groot shorts – which means an eye-popping amount of money will need to be spent to make these shows as high-quality as possible. WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier have already proven the worth of having a gigantic budget, so Disney certainly isn't going to start pumping the breaks now.

Of course, with rumors of even more new TV shows and movies in development that Disney has yet to confirm or deny, it would be easy to forecast the company's streaming service falling into the same debt-amassing issues that Netflix has built up for itself. At least in terms of "quality vs. quantity" arguments for its original programming. But Disney also has many, many, many revenue streams beyond Disney+ that keep the lights on, and the platform will likely continue to gain ground on Netflix as all the aforementioned new shows are released. So here's hoping the theme parks can open up and supplement some of those budget costs so that we won't have to hear about a new subscription increase going into 2022.

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Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.