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Disney+ Will Have Fewer Commercials Than Hulu, But Buyer Demand Is “Extraordinary”, Ad Chief Rita Ferro Says; Netflix And Other Newcomers Should Note “It Isn’t Easy”

Rita Ferra, president of ad sales for Disney, said the forthcoming ad-supported tier of Disney+ will have a less “robust” amount of ads compared with Hulu. That disparity, at least initially, will mainly be because about 65% of viewing on the streaming service is for movies, which don’t lend themselves to commercial interruption.

“Movies are the reason people come to the platform, and movies have a different ad load,” she explained. The family-friendly nature of Disney+ will also limit the scope to “four-quadrant” advertisers. Disney last evening hosted its upfronts pitch to advertisers and aside from a brief tease from CEO Bob Chapek at the outset, there were no specifics offered about the ad tier.

Speaking alongside Disney CFO Christine McCarthy at a conference hosted by Wall Street research firm MoffettNathanson, Ferro said the plan is to “start slow” with 15- and 30-second spots before adding the full suite of ad options on Disney+. Since the announcement earlier this year about the ad-supported option, she said, “I can’t even tell you the demand we’ve had for this. … The response has been extraordinary.”

In the wide-ranging session, which elicited some notable commentary on theme parks and movie theaters from McCarthy, Ferro was asked by moderator Michael Nathanson about her reaction to new players coming to the AVOD game after starting as pure subscription. HBO Max just introduced an ad-supported version last year and Netflix has said it will do likewise (in an industry shocker that is still resonating) over the next year or so.

Asked about the new crop, Ferro said, “I am excited about every platform that wants to come to the space, it’s not easy.”

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