Disney on Wednesday slashed the price of streaming service Disney+ to under $2 as its channels remain blacked out amid an epic battle with cable provider Charter Communications.
The Mouse House lowered its advertising-based tier to $1.99 from its current price of $7.99 a month.
The promotion, which runs through Sept. 20, charges the bargain-basement price for only three months before returning to the previous rate.
“We have not seen this before from Disney,” said Lightshed Partners co-founder Rich Greenfield.
Disney, which has seen subscribers ditch the service, has seen its popular stable of channels like ESPN go dark in nearly 15 million homes over the carriage-fee dispute with Charter, the second largest cable TV company.
“It’s possible this is due to accelerated shortfalls in subscriber growth,” he said, pointing to Disney+’s recent 11.7 million subscriber loss in the most recent quarter.
“It also could be due to Charter and advertising shortfalls,” the analyst added. “We just don’t know.”
The timing of the price drop comes not only as Disney+ is set to release a wave of new movies such as Pixar’s “Elemental” and the live-action adaptation of “The Little Mermaid,” but also as it hopes to add new customers to its service, which boasts of 146.1 million subscribers.
Since Disney CEO Bob Iger returned to the helm in 2022, Disney has focused on growing the profitability of its streaming division, which includes Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu, amid an acceleration in cord cutting from cable.
Last week, Charter blocked Disney’s cable channels from being shown on its Spectrum network in major markets including New York and Los Angeles after the two companies failed to secure a distribution agreement.
On Tuesday, Disney urged angry customers to subscribe to its own Hulu + Live TV or other streaming TV services.
“Despite the ongoing dispute, consumers have many other choices — such as Hulu + Live TV — that allow them to enjoy the great programming for which Disney Entertainment is known,” the company said in a statement.
“There’s no contract, no cable box, and no wait time to subscribe,” Disney said in the blog post.
The impasse comes during a busy time on the sports calendar, which includes the start of the college football season, the US Open tennis tournament, and the imminent start to the National Football League season.
Spectrum blacked out ESPN, which broadcasts the US Open, last Friday, as well as ABC-owned stations — including ABC 7 New York — and its affiliates and channels like Freeform, FX and National Geographic.
Charter said it had been paying about $2.2 billion in annual programming costs to Disney, excluding the impact of advertising revenue for both parties.
The cable company vowed to keep negotiating in good faith in a message to viewers on the blacked-out channels.
“We offered Disney a fair deal, yet they are demanding an excessive increase,” Spectrum said.
“They also want to limit our ability to provide greater customer choice in programming packages forcing you to take and pay for channels you may not want.”
Disney, meanwhile, told The Post that it has been in ongoing discussions with Charter for some time, but have yet to reach a “new market-based agreement.”
Disney, which has seen its stock hit nine-year lows partly because of the disruption to its traditional TV business, did not reveal how much it wants Charter to pay.
“Disney Entertainment has successful deals in place with pay-TV providers of all types and sizes across the country, and the rates and terms we are seeking in this renewal are driven by the marketplace,” the company said.
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