In case you haven't heard, there's a thing called Disney+. It's a streaming service that will launch in November. It will contain a lot of Disney content, naturally. And, that's a lot of stuff. Disney owns a whole bunch of stuff.
In the meantime, Disney has been removing their content -- not all of it, but bit by bit at least some of it -- from other streaming services. Netflix is slowly losing content, but whether or not all Disney content will eventually leave isn't known. But, with Disney's new streaming service, there will be a streaming home for the massive Disney catalog.
What brought this up is a couple of things. I grew up watching Disney, so Disney movies and Disney parks hold a special place for me. Sure, a lot of things Disney does I do not like, but if I stopped watching everything from companies that did something I didn't like, I would watch nothing. So, I enjoy their movies and parks, by myself and with the grandchildren.
The other thing is that Disney+ offers an introductory offer for the service. But, of course, there's a catch. You gotta sign up for three years in order to take advantage of the special price. And the deadline for the offer is a full two months (maybe more) before the service launches.
I figure I'll subscribe, at least for a while, to see if I like the service. And, I suspect I'll like it, at least enough to keep paying the $5.99 a month (that's the regular price, not the discount I mentioned. That works out to $3.92/month.
What complicates things is that Disney has other offers going on. They'll be offering three services -- Hulu, Disney+, and ESPN+ -- for $12.99/month. Since ESPN+ is $4.99/month and Hulu is $5.99/month, that would mean I could get Disney+ for essentially $2.01/month. But, I don't want or need ESPN+ every month. I only care during football season, since some games I want to watch will be on that service.
The other thing is that I also upgrade my Hulu from the $5.99 service to the $44.99 Hulu Live service -- adding $39/month to the cost -- during football season. That's so I can get ESPN, which is where many of the games I want to watch will be shown. I don't need Hulu Live the rest of the time. Of course, there are other options for adding ESPN to my streaming capabilities, the cheapest of which is Sling TV, which, with the Sports Extra (ESPNU, ESPNews, SEC Network, others) runs $35/month. To me, spending the extra $4 for Hulu Live vs Sling TV makes more sense because of the recent issues with content being pulled from Sling during Dish contract negotiations. Dish owns Sling TV. To avoid that, I upgraded my Hulu to the Live service instead.
So, the complications to the Disney+ special offer are related to the bundle of Disney+ with ESPN+ and Hulu, the fact that I only use ESPN+ part of the year, and the fact that I upgrade from Hulu to Hulu Live during part of the year. That made running the numbers challenging. But, hey, I like a good challenge. Here's what I found.
One assumption I made was that I would subscribe to Disney+ for three years, whether the 3-year deal, the one-year price, the month-to-month price, or the bundle price. Regardless of how I did it, I would do it for three years. That made it easy to compare.
The next is that I would keep Hulu the whole time. I expect that to be the case, as I've had Hulu since 2010, when it was called Hulu Plus.
The next assumption is that prices would remain the same for three years. That's a false assumption, but I only have current prices available, so I went with what I have.
Finally, I had to run the numbers two ways in order to fully compare. One way was with adding a live streaming service (for ESPN channels) during part of the year, and subscribing to ESPN+ only during that same time. The other was keeping all services all year. I don't expect that to happen, but I ran the numbers to see what would happen if I did. The idea is that if I found it cheaper to keep the year-round rather than drop them during off months, I would. Spoilers: It's not cheaper to keep them, but I didn't confirm that until I ran the numbers.
Here's what I found for having Hulu year-round, Disney+ year-round, ESPN+ during football season, live streaming with sports channels during football season.
Paying full price for all services ($5.99 Hulu, $4.99 ESPN+, $5.99 Disney+, $39 Hulu Live add-on), it's $55.97/month during football season, and $11.98 the rest of the year. That totals $363.71/year, or $1,091.13/3-years.
Same, but pre-paying for a year of Disney+ instead of month to month works out to $361.83/year or $1,085.46/3-years. That's less than a $2/year savings.
Same, but getting the Disney bundle year-round, and adding Hulu Live during season is $350.88/year or $1,052.64/3-years. That's a little more savings.
Same, but getting the Disney bundle in season, and paying full price off-season, works to $301.88/year or $905.64/3-years. That's more of a savings.
Same, but using Sling TV with Sports Extra instead of Hulu Live is $281.88/year or $845.64/3-years.
I also ran the numbers keeping everything year round, and that increased each total by 74% to 107%. Yep, nearly double in many cases and more than double in some. So, I'm not going with the year-round option.
What does all this bunch of numbers mean? Well, it means I'm going to pass on the three-year price for Disney+ and use the three-service bundle. I'll upgrade to live sports during football season and cut back during off-season. Which live service depends on price and special offers. Sling TV will sometimes offer specials if you pre-pay for several months. I've done that in the past. That may be something to consider if you are looking at something similar.
For now, I'm not going the cheapest route, but it's not much more than the cheapest. If you're looking at streaming, run the numbers before you buy into a long-term contract. It may save you some cash in the long run.