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.
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.
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.