Disney basically already owns the multiplexes. Five of the top 10 highest grossing movies of 2019 belong to Disney. Now they’re coming into your home with the long-awaited Disney+. Carrying a monthly price tag of only $6.99, Disney hopes to take on the streaming marketplace with a vast and appealing content library of beloved classics and recent favorites paired with originals series like The Mandalorian and original movies like Lady and the Tramp. But is that enough to ask people to subscribe to yet another streaming service? Can Disney make inroads in such a crowded environment?
What Disney+ has going for it that makes it stand apart from its competitors is its content library. That’s not to say that every movie in the Disney+ library is superb (So very many Don Knotts movies), but Disney knows its brand is strong to the point that the navigation is structured around mini-brands: Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic. That doesn’t even mention the Fox side of the business Disney recently acquired, which also brings The Simpsons and various Fox films like Avatar to the streaming service.
If you look at the landscape as people moving away from physical media and towards streaming titles, then Disney+ easily has its competitors beat. Yes, Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu (the last of which is owned by Disney and will likely be the landing spot for R-rated titles from the Touchstone and Fox libraries) have their own catalogues, but no one has the amount of recognizable and beloved content that Disney already has at its disposal. Like Star Wars? Here are all of the movies. Like classic Disney animation? Here are the big classics along with smaller movies like Sword in the Stone and Three Caballeros. Like Pixar? Of course you do, so here are all the movies that will make you sob.
When you look at the vast content library, the $6.99 price tag is worth it. Yes, Disney will inevitably raise the price over the years, but even if it reaches a comparable-to-Netflix $11.99/month, Disney+ has the goods. Again, in a landscape that is opting more for streaming options they can watch wherever they want, Disney+ is a goldmine of content that’s firmly in Disney’s wheelhouse of safe, reliable content. Every parent of young children is going to subscribe, and they should. There should be no hesitation just being able to pop on such a vast library of favorite content, and parents will probably get the nostalgia bug to share their own childhood favorites like Chip and Dale’s Rescue Rangers or Gargoyles.
Of course, nostalgia can only last you for so long, so Disney is also branching out into originals. This is where things get a bit trickier. Disney+ at launch has twelve titles under its “Originals” banner, but only one is the “killer app”, The Mandalorian, the first live-action Star Wars TV series. But you can already see the diversity here between scripted programming, unscripted series, animation, and movies. The test for Disney+ originals will be if they can keep pulling people in with exciting content. There are Marvel TV shows on the way, but the first of those, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, doesn’t arrive until fall 2020. For the time being, Disney+ doesn’t need to rely solely on fresh originals, and of course, everything that Disney brings to theaters will find its way to Disney+, but originals matter to keep a streaming service in the conversation. Disney+ is wisely airing its programming weekly, which allow shows like The Mandalorian to stay in the cultural conversation longer, thus upping Disney+’s importance.
The question perhaps shouldn’t be, “Is Disney+ worth it?” because obvious it is. If you had no other subscriptions, then $6.99/month for Disney+ is a steal based on what you’re getting in return. But plenty of people have multiple subscriptions, so the question is if Disney+ is worth it in addition to everything else you may have. Titles may cycle in and out, but Disney isn’t going to lose the rights to The Lion King to another streamer. The quality of the Disney+ originals may vary, and it remains to be seen how well those programs can compete. And yes, there are a few minor drawbacks like Disney saying it’s clamping down on subscription sharing as well as not showing TV shows like The Simpsons in their original aspect ratio (which is a pretty big drawback for The Simpsons since some of the comedy relies on sight gags).
But overall, Disney+ has earned its relatively low price tag, at least at launch. The interface is dead simple to use (it’s basically what Netflix and Amazon have), you can set up multiple profiles so everyone can have their own watchlists, you can download content for offline viewing, films like Star Wars have their 4K and Dolby Atmos upgrades now, and the service is available on plenty of platforms (I played around with it on my LG TV, my Xbox One, and my iPhone, and it worked well on all of them). While the server is unsurprisingly slammed at launch, I was still able to watch The Mandalorian and an episode of The Simpsons this morning without any problems. Disney has put its best foot forward with Disney+ and minor quibbles aside, it’s easily worth it.
To see every movie and TV show confirmed for Disney+, click here.