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Peak streaming? Disney+ joins crowded field of online streaming services




The logo for Disney's streaming service Disney+
The logo for Disney's streaming service Disney+
The Walt Disney Company

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Disney raised the curtain on a hotly anticipated video streaming service that’s aiming to topple industry pioneer Netflix, once a valuable ally of the Magic Kingdom.

The service, called Disney Plus, has been in the works for more than year, but Thursday marked the first time that the longtime entertainment powerhouse has laid out plans for its attack on Netflix and a formidable cast of competitors, including Amazon, HBO Go and Showtime Anytime.

Disney Plus will roll out in the U.S. on November 12 at a price of $6.99 per month, or $69.99 per year. That’s well below the $13 monthly fee Netflix charges for its most popular streaming plan, signaling Disney’s determination to woo subscribers as it vies to become a major player in a field that has turned “binge watching” into a common ritual.

At the same time, live online-TV providers like YouTube TV, DirecTV Now and Hulu with Live TV lured users with digital “skinny bundles” that were cheaper than cable. Now, many are raising prices. The latest is Google’s YouTube TV, which is increasing its monthly fee to $50. It launched at $35 and has raised prices as it added more channels. The first of this crop of TV services was Dish Networks’ Sling TV in 2015. Its most attractive feature was price, since it offered a handful of popular, live TV channels for $20 a month. A string of other companies announced similar services in the years that followed, many priced from $30-$40 a month. YouTube TV, Hulu Live, AT&T’s DirecTV Now and others were far cheaper than a traditional cable bundle, which costs about $100.

With files from the Associated Press

Guests:

Steven Zeitchik, reporter covering the business of entertainment for the Washington Post; he tweets @ZeitchikWaPo

Bruce Leichtman, president and lead analyst, Leichtman Research Group based in Durham, NH, which analyzes broadband and media trends