Disney's new streaming service, Disney Plus (or Disney+), launched to a rousing fanfare in the US, Canada and the Netherlands in November, and it's now available in the UK as well as several European countries.
A natural-born Netflix rival, Disney Plus offers both 4K and HD films and TV shows from Disney and its subsidiaries Lucasfilm, Marvel, Pixar and National Geographic. Here in the UK, the service launched with 500 films, 350 TV series and 26 Disney+ Originals.
Given the service's competitive pricing (£5.99 per month), you might be wondering if Disney Plus is worth subscribing to instead of, or alongside, Amazon Video and Netflix.
Read on as we dig into everything Disney Plus has to offer...
What is Disney Plus?
It's Disney's new streaming service, which was originally announced back in 2017.
The Hollywood giant has seen what Netflix is doing and thought it could do with a piece of the action. To that end, Disney is taking its ball back and pulling its Star Wars and Marvel franchises from its now arch-rival.
It's a wise move. Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV Plus are building their streaming businesses on offering original content that you can't see anywhere else. Disney's nearly-century-old back catalogue, plus its lucrative subsidiaries, means there's plenty to tempt viewers following the launch, whereas its upstart rivals have had to start from scratch. In the streaming business, that's a huge advantage.
How much does Disney Plus cost?
The big news is that it's cheaper than Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
Disney Plus costs £5.99 per month or £59.99 for an annual subscription, the latter of which works out as just under £5 a month. That undercuts Netflix's cheapest offering (£5.99 per month) on a yearly basis.
There's also a seven-day free trial to take advantage of so you can try out the service before parting with any cash.
Sky customer? You can purchase Disney Plus directly through the Sky Q – either on your Sky Q box or here – which automatically adds the service's £5.99-per-month subscription cost to your monthly Sky bill. That's one way to simplify your billing!
Disney+ monthly £5.99 | annually £59.99
Get access to Disney's Marvel, National Geographic, Pixar, and Star Wars content, with classic and new shows coming online every day - including The Simpsons!View Deal
What can you watch on Disney Plus?
Lots. At launch, it offers "over 500 films, 350 series and 26 Disney+ Originals". These include Toy Story 4, the live-action version of The Lion King, the just-landed final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars and a new TV series based on High School Musical.
Also correct and present are three of the four most profitable films ever made: Avatar, Avengers: Endgame and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. This is quite the proposition as it means Disney Plus will be the only place to see Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker from (probably) summer, Captain Marvel and all future releases from both Lucasfilm and Marvel.
Disney Plus already serves up over 30 films and 50 series from the Marvel universe, including the Oscar-nominated Black Panther, Avengers: Endgame, Guardians of the Galaxy and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
As Disney also owns Pixar, you'll find over 20 Pixar movies including every Toy Story, WALL-E, Up and Finding Dory. They are available to stream along with new shorts such as Pixar in Real Life, a live-action series that transports Pixar characters into the real world.
And then there are, of course, the Disney classics, of which there are many: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Beauty and the Beast, Pinocchio, Bambi, The Lion King, Lady and The Tramp, Peter Pan, The Little Mermaid, and Cinderella.
Over 600 episodes of The Simpsons are also available on the streaming service – yep, all 30 series of it. Series 31 will be available from November.
But Disney isn't just relying on its back catalogue; it's also investing heavily in original content.
Disney's chief financial officer, Christine McCarthy, said the firm would be investing at least $1 billion into original content within the first year. Its first (and so far most popular) project was The Mandalorian, the first ever live-action Star Wars series. Directed by Elf director Jon Favreau, the eight-part series takes place five years after Return of the Jedi and follows a lone Mandalorian in the outer reaches of the galaxy far beyond the authority of the New Republic.
The show has been a huge success, and Disney has already confirmed that the The Mandalorian 2 will premiere on Disney Plus in October 2020. The third season is reportedly already in pre-production, too. A docuseries on the TV show, Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian, is also now available to watch on the service.
Disney also revived Star Wars: The Clone Wars for a seventh and final season, now available to stream on the service. And there's plenty of other Star Wars projects on the horizon. The second live-action series set in the universe will follow the adventures of Rebel spy Cassian Andor during the formative years of the Rebellion and prior to the events of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. It goes into production this year. Ewan McGregor has also confirmed that he will will reprise his role as Obi-Wan Kenobi for a new series based on the Jedi master.
Other Disney+ Orginals include The World According to Jeff Goldblum, a documentary series in which Goldblum 'pulls back the curtain on a seemingly familiar object to reveal a world of astonishing connections'.
Then there's Short Circuit, a series of experimental shorts that will showcase the talents of Disney's top animators, while The Imagineering Story takes a look at the history and creation of Walt Disney's theme parks.
Marvel Studios is also working on a new live-action series for Disney Plus. Loki will star Tom Hiddleston as the titular superhero, who is the adopted brother of Thor and often his enemy. Though given his sometime anti-hero status, we're sure the series will give the character plenty of moral ambiguity. It's due out in 2021.
Other Marvel highlights include spin-offs for The Falcon, The Winter Soldier, WandaVision and She-Hulk.
How can you watch Disney Plus?
Unsurprisingly, Disney Plus has launched with exhaustive hardware support.
The service works across - deep breath - web browsers; iOS (iOS 11.0 and later) and Android (OS 5.0 Lollipop and later) phones and tablets; Google Chromecast, including devices with Chromecast built-in, such as select Vizio Smart TVs; Apple TV (4th gen or later) and Apple TV 4K (running tvOS 11.0 and later) streamers; NOW TV Smart Stick and Smart Box; Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles; Samsung (2016 and later), LG (2016 and later) and Android-based Sony and Sharp TVs; a wide range of Roku streaming players; Android TV set-top boxes such as Nvidia Shield TV and Mi Box; and all of Amazon's Fire TV streamers, Fire TV Edition smart TVs, and Fire Tablets (Fire OS 5.0 and later). Got a Fire TV device? You'll be able to perform voice commands such as, "Alexa, Open Disney+" or "Alexa, play The Mandalorian".
Disney Plus’s catalogue can be streamed from an iOS device over AirPlay to Apple TV (including the 3rd- and 4th-generation boxes) as well as any TV compatible with AirPlay 2.
Disney has also struck a multi-year deal to bring its streaming service to Sky customers in the UK and Ireland. However, note that until Sky updates its Sky Q boxes this summer, the service’s 4K, Dolby Atmos titles are sadly only playable in HD and 5.1 audio
What does Disney Plus look like?
The short answer: pretty similar to Netflix. As you can see in the interface above, it is familiarly image-led, with one big banner at the top promoting the latest film or show.
You can filter movies and TV shows, as well as by which brand's content you want to see. So click Disney, and you'll only see Disney shows and films. The same goes for Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic.
You can get a good feel for the Disney interface, catalogue, usability and performance in our Disney Plus review.