Disney Plus with ads is not a very good deal

Disney Plus’ new ad-supported tier, Disney Plus Basic, is now available, which means I’m back for another blog about what ads look like on your streaming services. The level itself didn’t surprise me too much; if you’ve seen ads on other web videos, watching the Disney Plus ads won’t feel much different. But the service’s new pricing, which includes a price hike for no ads, means the ad plan isn’t a very good deal.

Each ad content on Disney Plus is noted with a small “Advertisement” box in the bottom left corner of the screen with a countdown showing how long you have to go through it. You can pause an ad, but you can’t fast-forward through it. On the progress bar for whatever you’re watching, you’ll see little indentations that indicate where to expect commercial breaks.

If something about an ad really caught your attention, you can click a little “More Info” text box in a browser to be taken to a related website. This option was not available in the ads I viewed in the iOS app.

Here’s an ad I saw in the first episode of Andor.
Screenshot of Jay Peters / The Verge

Unlike Netflix’s ad plan, which I tested in November, the volume of Disney Plus ads per show or movie was generally predictable. Usually there were ads at the beginning of what I was watching, and then there were two ad breaks in the middle. That was not always the case; avatar and three Star Wars movies had no ads at all, while Avengers: Endgame and To blush had three ad breaks halfway through the movie. Obviously I wasn’t able to check the entire huge and ever-expanding library of Disney Plus, so there’s always a chance the ad serving might differ for you.

Sometimes, even though a video’s timeline showed that I was in a place where an ad should be, the show or movie I was watching just kept going. I didn’t see any ads on content aimed at younger children or on anything I viewed while testing a child’s profile, though that’s consistent with what Disney said would be the case.

One thing Netflix was up front about Basic with Ads was that some shows wouldn’t be available to watch. On Disney Plus Basic, as far as I know, you get access to the same shows and movies that are on the ad-free tier.

Besides ads, Disney Plus Basic has a few other drawbacks. But if you want to download shows to watch offline, that’s not an option. (Offline viewing is also not available in the ad level of Netflix.) And for some reason Disney Plus Basic is not available on Roku devices or the Windows Desktop app, according to a Disney support article.

Disney Plus with ads is pretty much what you’d expect

Basically, Disney Plus with Ads is about what you’d expect from Disney Plus with Ads. But the value proposition is a bit different than with Netflix. At $6.99 per month, Netflix Basic with Ads is a new tier that’s cheaper than the $9.99 per month Netflix Basic. Disney Plus Basic, on the other hand, costs $7.99 per month and replaces what’s now known as Disney Plus Premium, the ad-free version that just got a big price bump to $10.99 a month.

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