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Disney Plus vs Netflix: which streaming service is best?

Disney Plus vs Netflix: which streaming service is better?
(Image credit: Future)

Disney Plus and Netflix are battling it out for your eyeballs and your wallet, so before you dip into the latter, it's worth spending some time working out which streaming service is best for you. Join us as we compare the pros and cons of Disney Plus and Netflix.

Netflix launched in 1998, offering DVD rentals before switching to digital movie streaming in 2007. Since then, it has amassed a record-breaking 200 million subscribers, won a string of Emmys for original shows such as The Crown and – surely the icing on the cake – picked up a 2020 What Hi-Fi? Award.

Disney Plus entered the streaming wars in 2019 and has signed up over 100 million customers. The app provides content from the Disney 'family', which includes 20th Century Fox, Marvel, Pixar, National Geographic and Lucasfilm (home to everything Star Wars)

Both offer impressive CVs, but what about picture and sound quality? And which offers the best original content? And the best interface? Which is better value for money? Read on for the answers...

Disney Plus vs Netflix: price

Disney Plus streaming service displayed on flatscreen TV

(Image credit: Disney)

Assuming you want to stream shows in at least HD quality, Disney Plus is the cheaper service. The House of Mouse keeps things simple with a single subscription plan priced at £7.99 / $7.99 / AU$11.99 a month, or £79.90 / $79.99 / AU$119.99 a year. This includes access to HD, 4K and HDR content on up to four screens at once.  

Netflix offers users a choice of three plans. Netflix Standard, which includes HD viewing on up to two screens, costs £9.99 / $13.99 / AU$15.99 per month. Netflix Premium, which includes 4K viewing on up to four screens and is therefore the most comparable to Disney Plus's single tier, costs £13.99 / $17.99 / AU$19.99 a month. Not bothered about HD or 4K? Netflix Basic, which streams in only standard definition to just one screen, can be yours for £5.99 / $8.99 / AU$10.99 a month.

Disney Plus offers US customers the option to save money with the Disney Plus, Hulu, and ESPN Plus bundle. It gets you access to all three Disney-owned streaming services for the bargain price of $13.99 per month.

*Winner* Disney Plus

Disney Plus vs Netflix: availability

Netflix gift card

(Image credit: Netflix)

You can stream Netflix and Disney Plus through almost any web browser, but most users opt to use the apps, both of which we rate highly. 

The Netflix app is so ubiquitous that some TVs' remote controls even have a dedicated Netflix button. The app is available on PCs and Macs, Google ChromecastApple TVAmazon Fire TV devices, Roku streamers, smart TVs, Sky Q, Xbox, PlayStation and Blu-ray players, in addition to most tablets and smartphones (whether Android or iOS). 

You can find the Disney Plus app on a similarly-exhaustive range of devices. Compatible devices include all of the above, apart from the odd Windows device. Up to four screens can stream simultaneously on one account, too, which is on a par with Netflix’s pricier Premium tier and better than Apple TV+’s and Amazon Prime Video’s three-screen limit.

That said, there's no doubt that Netflix is the most world's most widely-adopted streaming service. It's now available in over 190 countries, compared with Disney Plus' 36. 

*Winner* Netflix

Disney Plus vs Netflix: catalogue

Star Wars film still courtesy of Disney Plus

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

Netflix delivers quality and quantity thanks to its vast library of over 6000 movies and TV shows – five times as many as Disney Plus. It's best known for true-crime originals such as The Jinx and Tiger King (season two of which is out on 17th November 2021, so get your mullet wig ready).

Netflix is also home to a ton of top TV franchises including (depending on where you live) The Office, Arrested Development, Stranger Things, Parks And Recreation, Line Of Duty, Bridgerton, Prison Break, Peaky Blinders, Community and The Queen's Gambit. The service dishes up a great selection of Oscar-winning movies, too, including The Iron Lady, 1917, The Social Network and The Departed. 

Disney Plus' catalogue might be five times smaller, but it's incredibly rich. It contains stellar titles from Disney and its subsidiaries – Lucasfilm, Marvel, Pixar and National Geographic – that includes everything from The Simpsons to Star Wars, as well as childhood favourites such as The Jungle Book. Its movie selection includes three of the four most profitable films ever made: Avatar, Avengers: Endgame and Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Disney Plus subscribers in Europe, Canada, New Zealand and the UK also get access to Star, a supplemental channel that offers "grown up" content from the ABC, FX and 20th Century Fox back-catalogues, plus originals such as the hotly-anticipated Dopesick, starring Michael Keaton and Rosario Dawson.

In the end, there's a good chance you'll be swayed by the exclusive content of one app or the other. Die-hard Star Wars fans on the hunt for a Skywalker fix will find Disney Plus hard to resist. Those who are desperate to watch Elizabeth Debicki play Princess Di in The Crown, or catch up with Tiger King Joe Exotic, will be attracted to Netflix.

*Winner* Draw 

Disney Plus vs Netflix: 4K HDR content

A still from The Crown – the hit Netflix TV series chronicling the British royal family

(Image credit: Netflix)

Want a high-quality picture to match your favourite high-quality drama or docu-series? Of course you do.

Disney Plus offers plenty of 4K HDR content (some originally mastered, some remastered). Titles in 4K HDR include Star Wars: The Force AwakensThe Lion King (2019), Aladdin (2019) and Frozen. Indeed, even classics such as The Jungle Book are presented in Full HD with 5.1 audio. 

Netflix delivers a huge stack of 4K content – everything from The Crown to Snowpiercer. Type 'HDR' into the search box and you'll also find a list of HDR content such as Ricky Gervais' After Life. You'll see an HDR logo (or Dolby Vision logo, if your TV supports it) on relevant content. 

As for sound, Dolby Atmos is also available on a good portion of both Disney Plus and Netflix content.

*Winner* Draw

Disney Plus vs Netflix: ease of use

Disney's The Mandalorian

(Image credit: Disney)

The Netflix interface is simple and sprightly. You'll find it easy to browse, create a shortlist and enjoy Netflix’s more-hit-than-miss recommendations based on your previous viewing habits. You can establish multiple user profiles too, with parental locks available in order to prevent kids stumbling onto the latest gangster flick.

Disney Plus's interface is similar to Netflix's – and just as easy to use. Channels such as 'Recommended for You', 'Originals', ‘Marvel’, 'Star Wars' and ‘Mickey Mouse Through The Years’ make it fast to find something you want to watch. There's even a handy 'HDR' category (Netflix doesn't have a dedicated HDR section in the app, so that's one-up to Disney).

Both apps offer the facility to watch offline, making it easier to binge-watch shows on the go. Netflix users can have up to 100 downloads at a time; Disney Plus users can supposedly download an "unlimited number" of titles on the mobile app. It's not something we've tried, but we'll take the company's word for it.

*Winner* Draw

Disney Plus vs Netflix: verdict

What is there left to say about Netflix? It has a huge selection of original content, it's a doddle to use and its available on almost any device (including streaming sticks, smart TVs and games consoles). You're not left wanting when it comes to picture quality, either, as there's no shortage of things to watch in 4K and HDR.  There are, in short, plenty of reasons to cosy up on the couch with this 2020 What Hi-Fi? Award winner.

The Disney Plus catalogue doesn't have the same depth of content as Netflix, but it's heaving with an extraordinary bounty that ranges from The Simpsons to Star Wars, Frozen to Finding Nemo. It's significantly cheaper than Netflix (on the basis of HD and 4K viewing), a doddle to use and appeals to both adults and children. If Disney Plus can establish itself as a serious contender just two years after launching, the sky's the limit for this polished streaming service.

In the end, it's Disney Plus that takes the overall win – but only by a mouse's whisker.

*Overall winner* Disney Plus

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What Hi-Fi?

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