October 24, 2019
Verizon Communications, the largest U.S. wireless provider, will provide a year of free access to Disney+ for its customers who have unlimited data plans. About half of Verizon’s 100+ million customers currently pay for an unlimited data plan. Disney’s new film and television streaming service will debut November 12 and cost $6.99 per month. Verizon will also offer a year of free Disney+ to its FiOS Internet and 5G home broadband subscribers. Disney+ is one of several new streaming services targeting Netflix’s dominance.
The Wall Street Journal notes that Apple is offering a free year of Apple TV+ to those who buy new iPhones, and that “AT&T next week plans to unveil its own streaming video service called HBO Max ahead of a full commercial launch expected next year.”
The latter includes “HBO’s premium TV shows as well as Warner Bros. films and popular reruns like ‘Friends’.” AT&T gained access to much of the content via its $80+ billion purchase of Time Warner, now renamed WarnerMedia.
With the Disney/Verizon deal, said sources, the two companies will “share the cost of providing the content to the carrier’s subscribers.” The mutually beneficial deal gives Disney “an immediate pool of viewers, while Verizon is able to offer customers a perk that executives hope will keep them from turning to other providers.”
Verizon previously gave some unlimited data plan subscribers Apple Music for six months and some new home 5G customers a month of free YouTube TV. Verizon also cut its unlimited plans by $5 per month in August to regain customers.
To retain customers, wireless customers “are increasingly offering free streaming content from Netflix to Spotify and Apple Music … though some executives say it is still too early to know how effective content offerings are in keeping subscribers from switching to a rival.”
According to WSJ, T-Mobile US was the first to use free streaming services as a perk, with free Netflix subscriptions for its family-plan customers. Other wireless carriers that offer free streaming include Sprint, which provides free Hulu with unlimited data plans, and AT&T which “gives some unlimited wireless customers free access to its AT&T WatchTV, a small bundle of live television channels.”