Disney's new streaming service, Disney Plus (or Disney+) launched to a rousing fanfare in the US, Canada and the Netherlands in November.
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.
Given the service's competitive pricing ($8.99 per month), you might be wondering if Disney Plus is worth subscribing to instead of, or alongsode, Amazon Video or Netflix.
Read on as we dig into everything Disney Plus has to offer...
What is Disney Plus?
It's Disney's new streaming service – originally announced back in 2017 and now available in the US, Canada, the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, the UK, Austria, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain and Switzerland. Its France launch has been delayed.
Disney says it wants to launch "in most major markets within the first two years" and
have 90 million subscribers by the end of 2020. Given the volume and quality of content it has to offer, would you bet against it?
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 the forthcoming 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 it's cheaper than Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
The Disney streaming service costs $6.99 per month in the US, where Netflix starts at $9 a month and Amazon's monthly price is $8.99.
If you'd rather pay annually, it will cost you $70 a year. That's a saving of around $14 on the monthly price. If you're happy to sign up to three years of Disney+ now, you could save a pretty penny: the House of Mouse has launched discounted pre-orders for the service, offering a three-year-deal for $23 off the regular price – that works out at just $3.92 per month.
There's also a special Disney bundle in the US that costs $12.99 per month and gives you access to Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu – saving you $5.83 per month.
Disney+ $6.99 monthly | $69.99 annually
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
How about elsewhere?
UK and Europe: £5.99/€6.99 per month, or £59.99/€69.99 for an annual subscription.
Canada: $8.99CAD per month, or $89.99 for an annual subscription.
Australia: $8.99AUD per month, or $89.99 for an annual subscription.
New Zealand: $9.99NZD per month, or $99.99 for an annual subscription.
Wherever you are in the world, that subscription cost gets you four simultaneous streams, as well as 4K HDR and Dolby Atmos/Vision streaming – that's something Netflix can only offer on its Premium tier, which costs $15.99 a month. Disney Plus customers can create and manage up to seven profiles on a single account, too.
Disney hasn't announced any other tiers of subscriptions. At the moment, it seems it's going all in on the basic package.
What can you watch on Disney Plus?
In one word, lots: hundreds of films and TV shows, including a slate of 26 Disney Originals, from Disney and its subsidiaries Lucasfilm, Marvel, Pixar and National Geographic.
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 the new TV series based on High School Musical. The latest Pixar movie, Onward, has recently hit the service – as has Frozen 2.
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, Guardians of the Galaxy and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Disney also owns Pixar, so 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 31 series of it.
Someone asked us to formally introduce ourselves so of course we made a video. pic.twitter.com/VZLrJ6ff7kAugust 19, 2019
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 most popular to date) 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 Mandalorian 2 will premiere on Disney Plus in October 2020. A docuseries on the TV show, Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian, will also arrive on the service on Star Wars Day (4th May).
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+ Originals 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. Disney owns 20th Century Fox (the home of The Simpsons), ABC, FX, ESPN and National Geographic too.
How can you watch Disney Plus?
Unsurprisingly, Disney Plus has launched with exhaustive hardware support.
The streaming service works on:
iOS (iOS 11.0 and later) and Android (OS 5.0 Lollipop and later)
Apple TV (4th gen or later) and Apple TV 4K (running tvOS 11.0 and later)
Microsoft Xbox One
Samsung (2016 and later), LG (2016 and later), Roku TVs, Vizio SmartCast TVs, Android-based Sony and Sharp TVs
Android TV set-top boxes
Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Edition smart TVs
Amazon Fire Tablets (Fire OS 5.0 and later).
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.
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 also filter 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.