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There aren’t many subscription offerings that combine a 134-year-old print magazine brand with a 3-year-old streaming video service, but National Geographic and The Walt Disney Co. are giving it a try.
National Geographic, which counts Disney as its majority owner, is launching a new subscription deal that combines a Nat Geo digital membership, print issues from the publication and the streaming service Disney+ into one offering.
The deal, called National Geographic Premium With Disney+, launches this week at $10.99 per month or $109 per year (there’s also a two-year plan for $190).
The offer is launching ahead of Earth Day on April 22, with Nat Geo betting that it can drive new interest around the flurry of exclusive content on Disney+ that Nat Geo has planned, including docs like Explorer: The Last Tepui (pictured above).
“It’s kind of like our Super Bowl,” says Julie Galvin, vp marketing at National Geographic Media.
The offer is meant to tie together the different strings of National Geographic and let users read, watch or otherwise consume Nat Geo content in the format most useful to them.
“We saw an opportunity to make it easier and more accessible to pull together the best of National Geographic. It gives people the opportunity to explore more topics when and how they want, but also just due to the depth and breadth of our content, really take a deep dive on topics that are interesting to them,“ Galvin says. “It is something that allows somebody who sees a show, maybe you watch a Nat Geo documentary on Disney+, and then dive a lot deeper online.”
National Geographic Premium With Disney+ includes, of course, Disney+ and a digital subscription to National Geographic, with access to the app, exclusive subscriber newsletters and content. But it also includes National Geographic’s annual “Year in Pictures” print issue and 10 issues of Nat Geo Kids for annual subscribers.
And Nat Geo’s family-friendly brand opens the door to a wide range of potential buyers. Nat Geo is a centerpiece of Disney+ already, with its own “tile” of content in the app. In February, Nat Geo announced over a dozen programs that will debut exclusively on the streaming service this year. The new offer is seen as one way that fans of the brand can ensure they get access to all of that content.
“As a brand that is part of the Disney family of brands, there is a ton of opportunity for us,” Galvin says. “The unique brand aspect for Nat Geo specific, is that we create content for people of all ages, across a variety of platforms. That gives us an advantage for sure, but then you layer on the ability to work with Disney and other brands within Disney on content collaborations, and access to new innovations, which puts us in a position to pursue new and unique offerings in the future that hit a variety of target offerings.”
The deal also underscores the degree to which Disney is beginning to leverage its streaming service to benefit other parts of its business.
With Disney+ booming (it has 43 million subscribers in the U.S. and Canada alone, and 130 million worldwide), the company is beginning to roll out other offers that lean on the streaming service. Until now, Disney+ was only available as a stand-alone service, or as part of the “Disney Bundle” with Hulu and ESPN+. But given its popularity, Disney appears intent on expanding its accessibility.
For example, on April 5, Disney also unveiled another Disney+ deal, this time tied to its critical theme parks businesses. It will be the first time that Disney’s resorts feature discounts tied to Disney+ membership.
From early July through the end of September, Disney+ subscribers who link their subscriptions to their Disney theme park accounts will be able to access hotel room discounts of up to 25 percent at Walt Disney World.
LightShed analyst Rich Greenfield said that broadening the benefits of Disney+, whether through a theme park promotion or making Dancing With the Stars a streaming exclusive, is about sending “an important signal to investors.”
“No Disney investor is investing for the revenue and profits of linear TV; everyone is laser-focused on the subscriber growth, ARPU and profitability of Disney+,” he added.
While there is little overlap in the businesses of print magazines and parks and hotels, Disney is clearly betting that Disney+ can become a glue that binds them together. And maybe the Disney+ magic can push Nat Geo’s subscriber base that much higher, or help the theme parks return to pre-pandemic earnings that much quicker.
While a hotel offer or magazine subscription isn’t exactly a Disney metaverse, it is also a step closer to the vision outlined by CEO Bob Chapek during the company’s fiscal 2021 earnings call last November:
“Suffice it to say, our efforts to date are merely a prologue to a time when we’ll be able to connect the physical and digital worlds even more closely,” he said. “And we look forward to creating unparalleled opportunities for consumers to experience everything Disney has to offer across our products and platforms — wherever the consumer may be.”
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