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Oct 22, 2019

Disney+ lands Verizon deal as it prepares attack on Netflix

Gordon Reid discusses Netflix and Disney

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Verizon Communications Inc. will give wireless subscribers a year of free access to Walt Disney Co.’s upcoming Disney+ video service, as the streaming battle heats up against established players Netflix Inc. and Amazon.com Inc.’s Amazon Prime Video.

Existing Verizon mobile customers and new Fios Home customers are eligible for the service, which Disney plans to launch on Nov. 12 for US$6.99 a month, the telecom company said Tuesday. Netflix shares fell as much as 3.5 per cent, while Disney rose as much as 2.4 per cent.

The move highlights the largest U.S. carrier’s strategy of attracting customers by partnering with media companies rather than owning its own programming, unlike its peer AT&T Inc. Verizon is fighting for subscribers against the popular T-Mobile US Inc., which offers free Netflix service to its customers.

Verizon already offers a free trial of Alphabet Inc.’s YouTube TV to all of its new 5G Home customers. The choice of Disney+, featuring programming from Marvel, Pixar and other family-friendly outlets, comes just weeks ahead of Apple Inc.’s expected launch of Apple TV+, a US$4.99-a-month streaming service.

Next week, AT&T is scheduled to outline more details about its HBO Max streaming service, which the company plans to launch next year. AT&T needs a successful rollout to help justify its media strategy, which is under scrutiny from activist investor Elliott Management Corp.