The Disney+ 'Ad Free' Experience Will Have One Ad After All, Thanks to Star Wars [Updated]

What was it grandfather said about altering deals?
Image: Lucasfilm

At what cost, Kylo Ren? A promotional offer for Starz, apparently.

The Verge reports that after announcing Disney+ as an entirely ad-free experience, the signup process for both Disney+ and ESPN+ will conclude with a promotional offer for Starz. It has been confirmed to io9 that the offer will only appear to a select portion of subscribers upon successfully signing up for either Disney+ or ESPN+.

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But why? Well, the answer is The Force Awakens, among other things.

Speaking to The Verge, a spokesperson for Disney confirmed that the Starz banner is part of a renegotiated deal between the megacorporation and the network, in exchange for altering broadcast rights on several recent Disney movies, including the first entry in the Star Wars sequel trilogy, so that the House of Mouse could have them available on the platform day one.

This has been a problem Disney has faced for a lot of its content, as it has spent the past few years withdrawing (or attempting to withdraw) from broadcasting deals made with networks and streaming services that have now become rivals as Disney enters the streaming wars. Marvel and Star Wars have been the primary battlegrounds for this renegotiation—just a handful of MCU movies will be available on Disney+ day one, and last year Disney went through a public spat with Turner Broadcasting as it tried to renege on a 2016 deal made with the company for the exclusive broadcasting rights to every then-current Star Wars film until 2024.

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That was at least a success on Disney’s behalf, but it seems getting The Force Awakens back was a little harder.

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Even with this acquiescence, not every Star Wars film will be available on Disney+ come November 12. Both The Last Jedi and Solo will be arriving at a currently undisclosed later date, and obviously The Rise of Skywalker will not be out in cinemas by that point but will make its streaming debut exclusively on the service sometime next year.

Still, the House of Mouse gets what the House of Mouse wants—and if that means having to twist a few words about a truly ad-free experience just to say it’s got that Star War at launch, it’ll do it gladly.

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Update: 11/4/2019 2:40 p.m 

After the publication of our piece, The Verge updated its report. Following confirmation from Disney, our article has been updated to clarify that a proportion of Disney+ users will see a limited-time promotional offer for Starz as part of the sign-up process.

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James Whitbrook

James is a News Editor at io9. He wants pictures. Pictures of Spider-Man!