A large library of Disney-related content at a user’s fingertips along with offline downloads, 4K streaming, and excellent performance.
Cons of Disney+
A majority of the content is from legacy franchises rather than fully original. Only some content from the 21st Century Fox acquisition is currently available. Parental controls are fairly basic.
Disney+ includes a huge amount of high-quality movies and TV-shows, but their content needs to be expanded in order for the service to remain competitive.
Besides their classic films, Disney owns a variety of other great properties people enjoy, including Marvel and Pixar. Disney+ is the latest video streaming service to deliver most of the content they own in eye-catching interfaces with some great features, such as personalized recommendations, offline downloads, and 4K streaming. The streaming service did face some connectivity issues on the first day of its launch, but after recent tests is working well. Disney+ is competitive with all of the top streaming services and will continue to grow as their offerings continue to expand.
TV Shows and Movies on Disney+
It’s no secret that Disney has been a popular media player for years. More recently, their growth rate has been most impressive. In fact, their recent acquisition of 21st Century Fox includes numerous movies and shows. The rest of Fox’s titles won’t be available for a while; however, the service does currently feature 500 movies and 7,500 TV episodes. This article will explain in more detail what customers will be able to get with Disney+ now.
As far as the TV side of things is concerned, Disney+’s library has a blend of upcoming originals as well as existing series. Existing Disney shows include The Suite Life of Zach and Cody, That’s So Raven, Phineas and Ferb, Lizzie Maguire, Kim Possible, Gravity Falls, and Even Stevens. The only Fox animated series on the platform at the moment is The Simpsons. King of the Hill, Futurama, Family Guy, and Bob’s Burgers are still on standby and are not yet available due to existing streaming agreements. Other Disney originals include The World According to Jeff Goldblum, The Mandalorian, Marvel’s Hero Project, Encore!, and High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. Some original series on the way include Timmy Failure, Monsters at Work, Loki, and several Marvel titles.
Most of Disney’s originals for streaming are seeded within pre-existing franchises, which is a safe decision on the company’s part. It would be good to see the creative side of Disney branch out of its comfort zone. Despite their abysmal launch titles, Apple TV+, Netflix, and even Amazon are releasing new, original stories. Apple TV+’s For All Mankind, Amazon Prime Video’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and Netflix’s Stranger Things are examples of entirely original series concepts. It was disappointing that during the time of testing, there was only one episode of each series available. It’s likely Disney will start releasing the remaining episodes using a staggered scheduling approach instead of airing them all at once. Apple TV+ and CBS All Access are using a similar strategy, so customers will have to maintain their subscriptions in order to see their favorite show for the remainder of its release cycle.
In terms of volume, Disney+’s movie library doesn’t outshine Amazon Prime, Hulu, or Netflix, but if kids or adults are super fans of Disney classics, Pixar, the Star Wars franchise, or Marvel films, Disney+ is most certainly worth the money. Their high-quality movie library has been more reliable than a majority of the other streaming services out there.
Some of the more popular live-action films on Disney+ include The Sound of Music, The Sandlot, Remember the Titans, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Miracle on 34th Street, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, and Avatar. Other classic Disney animated films include Zootopia, The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Lion King, The Jungle Book, The Emperor’s New Groove, Tangled, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Peter Pan, Oliver and Company, Mulan, Moana, Lilo & Stitch, Frozen, Fantasia, Bambi, and Aladdin. Pixar films include titles such as WALL-E, Toy Story, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Monsters Inc., Inside Out, Finding Nemo, Cars, and Brave.
Most of the Star Wars films are on Disney+. Among them are Episodes I through VII, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Last, but not least, are the Marvel films including Thor: The Dark World, Iron Man, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Doctor Strange, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers: End Game, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Ant-Man. More recent films such as Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Avengers: Infinity War are missing. When other streaming service rights expire, some of this content will eventually be available on Disney+. Disney will also be removing content from cable TV at some point as well.
Pricing and Platforms
Right now, Disney+ is $6.99 a month. The annual plan is $69.99 a year which is actually cheaper than paying by the month. There is also a free 7-day trial available, but it requires a payment method, such as a credit card, up front. For $12.99 a month, Disney has a plan that includes Hulu (supported with ads), Disney+, and ESPN+. This package is a great value as a whole, but there are other sports streaming services that are superior to ESPN+. Some Verizon customers can obtain free one-year subscriptions to Disney+.
While Disney+ is relatively cheap, there are several other ad-supported services such as Hulu and Apple TV+ that cost $4.99 and $5.99 a month. CBS All Access’s ad-supported plan is also $5.99 a month. Other more expensive streaming services include those from Prime Video and Netflix which are $8.99 a month. HBO Now is currently $14.99 a month. With so many streaming services to choose from, it can be easy to overdo it and spend as much on them as consumers would spend on a cable TV package, which is why every dollar counts as far as monthly subscriptions are concerned.
Disney+ can be streamed on all Android and iOS mobile phones, as well as media streaming services such as Roku and Chromecast and gaming consoles including Sony’s Playstation 4 and Xbox One. Additionally, Disney+ can also be viewed in a web browser on a computer desktop or on Fire TV devices.
On the Web
Dark background colors, dependable elements, and light text are used on Disney +’s web interface to give it a cleaner, more structured look. The following menu items near the top of the screen can be accessed through the app: Series, Movies, Originals, Watchlist, Search, and Home. Account settings and profile information are accessible through an icon located on the upper right-hand corner of the screen. It is here that autoplay preferences can be set, profile photos can be changed (including animal photos from National Geographic or Disney characters), and subscription details can be updated. The user can also select the Disney+ bundle that includes Hulu (supported with ads) and ESPN+ from this area. While there were various issues on launch day with most of Disney+’s loading screens and with navigation lag, the web interface is now fully operational.
Some of the highlights featured on the Home tab include content from National Geographic, Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar, and of course, Disney. Other content can be found on horizontal scrolling lists which populate the remainder of the page including Shorts, Ultra HD and HDR, Out of the Vault, Trending, and Recommended for You. The Search tab includes more collections like Princesses, Marvel Animation, Disney Channel Original Movie, and Disney Through The Decades. The user can use characters, genres, and titles in their search queries. Series, Movies, and The Originals show all of the entries featured in these categories. The other two sections can be sorted by entries that support HDR and UHD standards and by genre and name.
When a user sees something of interest they would like to watch, they can click on a title to view the details of their selection. MPAA ratings, run-times, and descriptions can be found. Disney+ also includes suggestions for content related to what the user is watching, video extras like deleted scenes or trailers, and expanded details with cast information and longer descriptions. When the plus button is pressed, titles can be added to the user’s watchlist, which can sync across a variety of platforms. Disney+ lacks a place for feedback for star-based ratings or reviews written by Disney+ users. This is an unusual exclusion, as Disney+ prides itself on recommendations.
Disney+ has a standard playback screen with 10-second fast-forward and rewind buttons, along with caption settings built in. There are skip intro buttons on some shows which is a nice feature. It also pops up in other season episodes after the current episode finishes streaming, instead of forcing the user to return to the episode list to watch the next episode.
Users can sign up for a Disney+ service on a smartphone without any trouble. The account will need to be verified in the app’s settings. This can be done by entering a one-time password that Disney will send to the user’s e-mail address. The app has a sleek, dark theme with colorful previews, which is consistent with their web interface.
The app can be navigated using icons located on the bottom of the screen: Profile, Downloads, Search, and Home. The Series, Movies, and Originals tabs are in the Search section. The Downloads section has a complete list of titles the user downloaded available to view offline. It’s easy to download content. The user can tap on the down arrow icon located on the detail page of every entry. This is next to the plus icon for adding content to a user’s watchlist. The profile tab in the app is where the watchlist can be accessed. It’ll have its own icon.
There are specific settings in the mobile app, including quality download settings and an option that can restrict streaming to only Wi-Fi connections. Disney does not have a specified resolution for their downloads, as The Low, Medium and High descriptors were quite vague. There is a graphic that shows the current storage available on the user’s device, as well an option to download content to an external storage device.
Watching TV episodes or movies over a Wi-Fi connection is quite easy, as there are typically no issues with the audio or video streaming quality. TV shows and movies can also be downloaded just as easily over a Wi-Fi connection.
There are a wide range of accessibility options on Disney+, including audio descriptions for most titles and closed-captioning. Netflix and Prime Video also have audio descriptions for some of their content. All of the content on Apple TV+ is owned by Apple, which guarantees that their service supports this feature.
Text-to-speech tools work well with Disney+, including those on the PlayStation 4. They support alternate navigational methods including keyboard usage and features high-contrast readability. Subtitle and audio preferences can be set from the playback screen directly on the web or the mobile app. Other subtitle settings can be found on the web.
Seven customized user profiles, ten connected devices, and four real-time streams can be supported on a Disney+ account, which is a “best-in-class” offering that is good for large families and households. In comparison, Netflix has five user profiles and Apple TV+ allows six. CBS All Access and Amazon Prime Video allow 2 real-time streams.
The parental controls on Disney+ were lackluster to say the least, as users can only specify kid-friendly programs with the G, TV-Y, TV-Y7/Y7-FV, TV-G ratings. Customized restrictions cannot be set based on overall content ratings. Profiles cannot be locked with a PIN number, which makes it easy for children to switch profiles to avoid this setting. Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, and Apple TV+, on the other hand, do have more flexibility in this area.
Offline downloads are supported on Disney+, which is a feature also shared with CBS All Access, Showtime, Starz, HBO Now, Apple TV+, Amazon Prime, Netflix, and many others. Hulu’s premium plan recently offered this capability for its subscribers, but other restrictions have been imposed on how long users can keep downloaded content. Disney+ doesn’t have any limitations for downloading content other than making sure the user keeps their account connected to the internet once a month (30 days). The limitations for content that Disney+ doesn’t completely own isn’t specified. Content downloads are fairly large, as a single episode of The Simpsons can take up 1GB of space. The download, on the other hand, only takes a few minutes to complete.
With HDR10 support and Dolby Vision for platforms that can support it, as well as HD HDR for supported mobile devices, some shows can be streamed in Ultra HD 4K. The Dolby Atmos standard is also supported on certain content too. The detail page of each entry includes the specific standards it supports. Netflix, Apple TV+, and Prime Video support these standards, but the best track record for the percentage of shows that support them is through Apple TV+.
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) can protect internet traffic from other people trying to access a user’s network and also from their ISP. VPNs have the ability to spoof a location, which is not so good when a user is trying to stream, as most streaming services do not allow them as a means to enforce specific geographic restrictions on their content. There are some limited restrictions with Disney+, but most of their content can be distributed globally, unlike other providers.
Some users have attempted to stream Disney+ from their desktop or phone using a US Mullvad server but were blocked from watching anything and could not log into the service online.
Disney+ is a tough competitor in the streaming world because it has a wide variety of entertainment content, and they have promised to produce new originals based on some of their most popular franchises. The family-friendly features including seven user profiles and four real-time streams, as well as offline downloads, ad-free viewing, and intricate interfaces, are pretty state-of-the-art. If viewers knew that the upcoming originals and currently announced new content would succeed, the service would likely have earned a higher rating. But because Disney+ is still new, it’s too soon to judge their quality. Disney also needs to include more 21st Century Fox properties, since they are now acquired by the company. For these reasons, Netflix is still the top choice for their impeccable interface, originals, features, and on-demand streaming. Respectively, YouTube TV and Hulu with Live TV are among the best services available to watch live TV for their channel lineup and overall value.
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