Disney and the premium cable channel Starz have reached a revised licensing agreement. Disney+ and ESPN+ will be running ads for Starz in exchange for streaming rights to films like Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

What’s happening: 

  • The Verge is reporting that Disney+ and ESPN+ will soon be running ads promoting another subscription service, Starz.
  • Disney will provide ad space for the premium cable channel as part of a revised licensing deal.
  • While Disney has an extensive library of content to make available to Disney+ subscribers, there are many films that have been licensed to other channels and services.
  • Starz for example, had rights to Star Wars: The Force Awakens as well as some Marvel titles. A Disney spokesperson confirmed to The Verge that in exchange for streaming rights, Disney will promote Starz on their new platform.

Where you’ll see Starz ads:

  • According to The Verge, the login pages for both Disney+ and ESPN+ will feature ads inviting users to sign up for Starz.
  • Users will also come across the Starz promotional offers on the Disney+ Android app and in browsers.  

Isn’t Disney+ “ad-free?”

  • Disney’s streaming platform is ad-free meaning, once subscribers have logged into their accounts they’ll be able to enjoy shows and movies without commercial interruptions or pop-up ads.
  • Additionally, users won’t be served ads or promotional offers in their profiles or while browsing through the library of content.
  • It’s possible that in the future Disney will offer tiered subscriptions, and possibly even ad-supported options. But for the time being, Disney’s streaming services will be completely supported by subscriptions.  
  • Fans can sign up now and choose between a monthly option, at $6.99 per month, and an annual option, at $69.99 per year.
  • Disney+ launches on November 12, 2019.

What they’re saying:

  • Disney CEO Bob Iger: “It’s clear that, from a library perspective, while there’s certainly a lot of volume, the recent studio slate will not fully be available at any one time because of the existing deals and it would take time for those rights, ultimately, to revert back to us.”
  • Michael Paull, head of Disney streaming services, in an interview with The Verge: “I think as you can see from what we’re making available, and from seeing some of the titles that we’re making available at launch, there’s been a lot of effort that went into bringing it all back together so that we could make it available on the service.”
  • Jeff Ulin, a former distributor at Lucasfilm: “Historically, a movie would cycle through different windows. You would have it go to a theater, then it would go to video, and then it would go to pay TV like a Showtime or HBO. You own the underlying copyright and ownership, and what that says is you own the rights to license it. Licensing it, you could split it up 100 different ways. Licenses can run for many, many years. Where it’s been licensed to, who it’s licensed to, and for how long, that gets very complicated.”