Disney+ will be launching a new advertising-based video-on-demand (AVOD) tier later this year to increase subscriber numbers. The Walt Disney Corporation has announced that the new, cheaper ad-supported tier on Disney+ bans alcohol commercials when it launches.
The AVOD Disney+ will also not sell airtime for ads from political groups and rival outlets or entertainment studios like Netflix, Amazon, or Apple.
Disney+ includes some of the most beloved and watched brands including Disney, Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel, and National Geographic. It recorded 138 million streaming subscribers at the end of the first quarter of 2022. Disney+ hopes to increase its subscribers to 230-240 million by the end of 2024.
The streaming service specifically protects children from advertising exposure in its AVOD launch. No advertisements will be aired on kids profiles. These profiles have controls blocking most of the Disney+ library and highlighting specific content for younger viewers. Parental-Controls restricted profiles will run advertisements except for shows which are for pre-schoolers.
Walt Disney Corporation will only run 4 minutes’ worth of ads within an hour on the new AVOD Disney+. This is much less advertising than NBCUniversal’s Peacock and Hulu.
Recently, the Parents Television Council (PTC) condemned Disney+ for adding the Marvel Defenders series to the platform due to its mature audience ratings.
Positive decision by Disney+ to protect children from alcohol commercials on new ad-supported tier
The decision by Walt Disney Co to ban alcohol commercials on the new ad-supported tier shows the company’s commitment to protecting children. As a practice, Disney has tried to protect its young viewers from being flooded with advertising. Disney’s flagship Disney Channel cable network does not accept traditional ads, only sponsorship messages that tie the product being pitched to the cable network’s programming. Meanwhile, Disney Junior, aimed at younger children, has typically not run commercials at all.
Alcohol advertising exposure by children causes serious the harm. Research shows being exposed to alcohol ads is directly linked to subsequent alcohol use by children.
Alcohol content and imagery on original films on video-on-demand services is a major problem. For example, one study found that alcohol content appeared in almost half of the coded intervals in both Amazon Prime and Netflix original films in the United Kingdom (UK). This type of product placement and imagery is specifically harmful because viewers might not even perceive it as advertising. Thus, this kind of alcohol content and imagery adds to the pervasive alcohol norm by depicting the use of alcohol products as part of social culture.
Alcohol marketing is rising in movies
While Disney+ is taking a step in the right direction, unfortunately, the same can not be said for other content. Alcohol marketing has been increasing over the years in top box office movies. One study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics found that between 1996 and 2015, alcohol brand placement in top American movies increased around 5% every year. At the end of 10 years, it increased a total of 92%.
The study identified three alcohol brands driving the rising alcohol product placement in movies. Budweiser, Miller, and Heineken. One-third of all alcohol brand placements (44% of movies had specific brand placements) had one of those three brands. Budweiser is almost in every Adam Sandler movie, which while not being top box office movies, serve as a good example. Sandler’s movie That’s My Boy was called “a 114 minute long commercial for Budweiser” by Brand Channel. Another example is every Pirates of the Caribbean movie which feature a lot of rum in most scenes.
Studies have also found that original films on streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime are flooded with alcohol product placements.
Given the rising alcohol content on streaming services and movies, better alcohol marketing regulations are a necessity to better protect people specifically children from being exposed to alcohol content.