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Half Mag / Half Zine

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 in your streaming services. The tier itself didn’t surprise me too much; if you’ve seen ads on other web videos, actually watching Disney Plus’ ads won’t feel much different. But the service’s new pricing, including a price jump for no ads, means the ad plan isn’t a very good deal.

Any ad content on Disney Plus is noted with a little “Ad” box in the bottom-left corner of the screen with a countdown showing how much longer you’ll have to suffer through it. You can pause an ad, though you can’t fast-forward through it. On the progress bar for whatever you’re watching, you’ll see little notches marking where you can expect ad breaks.

In a browser, if something about an ad has really grabbed your attention, you can click a small “Learn More” text box to be directed to a related website. This option wasn’t available in the ads I watched on the iOS app.

Unlike Netflix’s ad plan, which I tested in November, the volume of Disney Plus’ ads per show or movie was generally predictable. Typically, there’d be ads at the beginning of whatever I was watching, and then there would be two ad breaks in the middle. That wasn’t always the case; Avatar and three Star Wars movies had no ads at all, while Avengers: Endgame and Turning Red had three mid-movie ad breaks. I obviously wasn’t able to check the entirety of Disney Plus’ vast and ever-growing library, so there’s always a chance the ad load may differ for you.

Sometimes, even though a video’s timeline showed I was at a spot where there should be an ad, the show or movie I was watching just kept on playing. I didn’t see any ads on content geared toward younger kids or on anything I watched while testing a kid’s profile, though that’s in line with what Disney said would be the case.

One thing Netflix was upfront with about Basic with Ads was that some shows wouldn’t be available to watch. On Disney Plus Basic, as far as I can tell, you get access to all of the same shows and movies that are on the no-ads tier.

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

In short, Disney Plus with ads is pretty much what you’d expect from Disney Plus with ads. But the value proposition is a bit different than it is 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 per month.

This is where I should disclose that I am freeloading my primary Disney Plus account from somebody I know. (Thank you!) If they cut me off or Disney cracks down on password sharing like Netflix is, though, I would pay the higher Premium price so I could watch The Mandalorian and Loki’s second season when it’s out next year without commercial interruptions.

Disney Plus’ ads really aren’t that bad. But the price increase is what gets me, and unfortunately, it seems like all streaming services are just going to keep getting more expensive. Let’s hope Disney keeps costs the same for a while.