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Verizon is giving away Disney+ for a year as mobile becomes a streaming battleground

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Disney+ will be the dedicated streaming home for entertainment from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic and more.
(Disney)

The streaming wars are coming to your mobile phone.

Verizon Communications Inc. will offer a free year of new streaming service Disney+ to its wireless unlimited customers, Walt Disney Co. announced Tuesday.

The companies said new Verizon Fios home internet and 5G internet customers would also be eligible for a yearlong free subscription to the new streamer, which will debut Nov. 12.

Disney+ will serve as the streaming home of Disney films and movies, and brands such as Star Wars, Pixar and Marvel, as Chairman Bob Iger embarks on a massive shift for the Burbank entertainment giant’s business model. For regular subscribers, Disney+ will cost $6.99 a month, or $70 a year.

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The Disney-Verizon pact comes as mobile carriage deals become a key weapon in the competition for streaming audiences. Disney+ will compete directly with streaming services including Netflix and Apple TV+.

“It will certainly boost our numbers somewhat,” said Disney’s direct-to-consumer chairman, Kevin Mayer, in an interview with CNBC. “But we also think it is great for consumers. And it is a brand that we’re really happy to be in partnership with.”

T-Mobile recently agreed to partner with Quibi, a Hollywood start-up that plans to distribute bite-size entertainment designed for millennials, The Times reported last week. Quibi launches in April, and the T-Mobile deal gives it a potentially large distribution platform.

Dallas-based phone colossus AT&T last year acquired Time Warner Inc. for $85 billion, and its entertainment division will launch a new streaming service, HBO Max, next year. Verizon previously delved into streaming with its short-lived Go90 video platform in 2015.

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Verizon’s stock price was little changed in Tuesday trading, at $60.92. Disney shares rose 2% to $132.56 in midday trading on Wall Street, while Netflix dropped 4% to $267.73.


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