Disney has called it the future of the company, and it’s less than a day away: Disney Plus. It’s the entertainment giant’s streaming service for almost everything it creates, taking on Netflix as well as a new crop of rivals like Apple TV Plus and HBO Max. Disney Plus, which launches on Tuesday, will be the exclusive home to stream theatrical blockbusters from Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar, and Disney’s own studios.
Disney also is ramping up a slate of original shows and movies based on those brands and others. Most anticipated among them is big-budget Star Wars spinoff The Mandalorian.
Disney Plus is officially set to launch at 12:01 a.m. PT Tuesday in the US, Canada, and the Netherlands, though some app stores may surface it earlier — or later — than that. (Next up is the Nov. 19 launch in Australia and New Zealand.)As it’s counting down to the Disney Plus launch, Disney has been dropping more news about the streaming service.
On Monday, just hours before Disney Plus was set to go live, Disney doubled the number of Marvel movie titles that would be available at launch Tuesday. Before that, Disney pushed up the streaming date for mega-blockbuster Avengers: Endgame last week, also making it available at launch after previously saying it would be coming a month later. Also last week, Disney also announced it had broadened device support to Amazon Fire TV streaming devices and Samsung and LG products, and Disney revealed March 31 as the Western European launch date for Disney Plus.
And a couple of weeks earlier, Disney made waves announcing a deal with Verizon to give the carrier’s unlimited wireless customers a free year of Disney Plus. The offer boosts Disney’s competitiveness against Apple TV Plus, another closely watched streaming service that launched Nov. 1. The tech giant, whose service is $5 a month for a small library of originals, will give a free year of Apple TV Plus to anyone who’s bought one of its gadgets since early September.
Overall, Disney Plus will cost $7 a month in the US, or $70 (about $5.83 a month) if you prepay for a full year. That monthly rate is half the price of HBO Now and the forthcoming HBO Max. It’s also a discount compared with Netflix’s cheapest tier at $9 a month. But Disney Plus includes perks that Netflix charges extra for — like four simultaneous streams, 4K Ultra HD in Dolby Vision, HDR10 and Dolby Atmos immersive audio. That puts Disney’s $7-a-month subscription in closer comparison with Netflix’s $16-a-month tier.
Much of Disney Plus’ original programming leans into the company’s big-budget franchises. Its Marvel original shows, for example, are going to be closely knit into the storylines that play out on the big screen in theaters. Even though Disney Plus is the company’s answer to Netflix, it won’t be releasing episodes of its original series all at once as its giant rival does. New episodes will come out weekly.
So is the Disney Plus streaming service worth paying for? The details that we know so far are below, but basically: If you love Star Wars or Marvel movies or if you have kids, you may find yourself considering yet another subscription.
What’s the Disney streaming service?
Now to explain what Disney+ is. The Disney Plus streaming service will be a competitor to video streaming services such as Netflix, HBO Now and Apple TV Plus. It’s a paid subscription without any advertising, and it gives customers access to a vast library of Disney’s and Fox’s legacy content as well as new, exclusive TV shows, movies, documentaries, and shorts.
Disney’s other streaming services — Hulu and sports-focused ESPN Plus — will run on the same tech platform, so you can subscribe to them with the same password and credit card info. Disney plans for all three to be individual subscriptions, but when Disney Plus launches in the US, it’ll offer a triple-service bundle for $13 a month.
Disney Plus will include all of Disney’s family-friendly content and much of its mass-audience fare — basically, anything made for audiences up to a PG-13 rating. It’ll have content from Disney proper, Marvel, Lucasfilm (so,Star Wars), Pixar and National Geographic. And outside those traditional categories, it’ll also offer all 30 seasons of The Simpsons, a new feather in its cap from the Fox takeover. Hulu, on the other hand, will be where Disney streams more adult-oriented material. For example, Hulu will stream a new Marvel animated series for grown-ups. Hulu will continue to stream content from three of the broadcast networks, as well as its own original series, like The Handmaid’s Tale and Castle Rock.
Beginning in March, Hulu will become the official streaming home for FX networks. (FX became part of Disney when the company bought Fox for $71.3 billion. ) FX on Hulu will include all seasons of more than 40 FX series and will offer episodes of current and new FX series immediately after they air on the traditional network. And FX will produce original series exclusively for FX on Hulu, starting with four new series next year: Devs; Mrs. America, starring Cate Blanchett; A Teacher, starring Kate Mara; and The Old Man, starring Jeff Bridges and John Lithgow.
And Disney now has full control over Hulu’s direction. Hulu was jointly owned by four parent companies as recently as March. But in May, Disney said it’d buy the rest of Hulu it didn’t already own. That gives Disney the flexibility to offer its bundle discount.
When’s the release date?
Disney Plus will launch Tuesday in the US, Canada, and the Netherlands. The initial launch of Disney Plus will come less than two weeks after Apple TV Plus rolled out.
It is supposed to officially launch at 12:01 a.m. PT Tuesday, but people who start checking for the Disney app before that may see it pop up sooner because of quirks in different app stores. Reddit may be your best bet for the early word of where people are seeing the app appear first. Both Disney Plus and The Mandalorian have subreddits, and the larger Disney subreddit has a Disney Plus launch megathread.
After the American, Canadian and Dutch launch, Disney Plus will arrive a week later, on Nov. 19, in Australia and New Zealand.
On March 31, it will launch across Western Europe, including the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and a number of other countries in the region.
In advance of the official launch, Disney has been offering Disney Plus free in the Netherlands for anyone to try. It’ll switch to requiring a subscription on Tuesday.
Globally, Disney plans a progressive rollout worldwide over the next two years. The company provided a generalized timeline for when it’ll expand the service to the world’s major regions.
Elsewhere, Disney Plus is slated to roll out in:
- Eastern Europe over the course of a year starting as early as October 2020.
- Latin America over the course of three months starting as early as October 2020.
- Asia Pacific over the course of two years starting as early as October this year.
Kevin Mayer, the Disney executive in charge of the division launching Disney Plus, declined to specify any other international launch dates in August. But he told a group of international press that he believes people “will be happy” with how quickly Disney rolls out the service to international markets.
How much will it cost?
In the US, Disney said the service will cost $7 a month, or $70 a year.
Its price undercuts the $13 monthly fee for Netflix’s most popular plan in the US, which lets you stream to two different devices simultaneously in high definition. Disney Plus, however, will allow all subscribers to stream to four devices and access 4K content at no extra cost — features Netflix includes in its $16 premium tier.
Disney Chief Financial Officer Christine M. McCarthy hinted Disney Plus pricing may rise as the service advances, calling the $7-a-month fee an “initial” price.
The company also said it’ll bundle Disney Plus with Hulu (with ads) and ESPN Plus, offering a $5 discount if you subscribe to all three of its streaming options. At $13, that costs the same as Netflix’s most popular plan in the US.
Way back in 2017, Iger noted that the price would reflect the “fact that it will have substantially less volume” than prime competitor Netflix. As the months and years pass, Disney will accumulate a bigger catalog of exclusives and originals on Disney Plus. As that happens, it’s a good bet the company will start pushing its price higher.
But the company has also started carving deals to get the service in the hands of more people without making them open their wallets. In October, Disney and Verizon announced a deal that gives a free year of Disney Plus starting on launch day to all of the carrier’s customers with a 4G LTE or 5G unlimited account, as well as new customers of Verizon’s Fios and 5G home internet services.
In advance of launching, Disney offered a series of discounts. The very first people given the chance to pre-register for Disney Plus were attendees of its D23 Expo, Disney’s biennial fan convention in Anaheim, California, in August. The “Founders Circle” offer priced a three-year subscription at $140.97 total or the equivalent of $3.92 a month. The offer was only available to US residents, and it ended on Labor Day.
Later, the company offered another pre-order discount to its Disney faithful: Disney Parks annual pass holders qualified for discounts on two- or three-year subscriptions. A three-year subscription dropped $40, to $170, and a two-year subscription fell $20, to $120. And then it offered another, similar discount. The deal, which is also for a $170 three-year subscription, was marketed for Disney Movie Insiders members, but it seemed anyone could sign up.
In Canada, Disney Plus will be priced at CA$9 a month, or CA $90 per year. In the Netherlands, it’ll be 7 euros a month, or €70 per year. In Australia, it’ll be priced at AU $9 a month, or AU $90 per year. And New Zealand subscribers will pay NZ $10 per month or NZ $100 per year.
How can I stream it?
Disney promised wide device support, saying Disney Plus will support streaming to phones, tablets, computers, connected TVs and streaming media boxes. At its big unveiling in April, Disney specifically called out support for Roku TVs and the Playstation 4. In August, the company said it also had global distribution agreements in place with Apple, Google, Microsoft, Roku, and Sony. Then, less than a week before launch, Disney expanded that to Amazon, Samsung, and LG. That encompasses the makers of:
- Roku’s boxes, sticks, and TVs
- Apple TV, iPhone, and iPad
- Phones and TVs running on Android operating systems, as well as Chromecast streamers
- Xbox One
- PlayStation 4.
- Amazon Fire TV devices
- Samsung smart TVs
- LG smart TVs
During the investor presentation in April, slides included photos of Amazon Fire TV, but the company hasn’t specifically confirmed Amazon’s devices or whether Disney Plus will be an option on Amazon Channels. But executives have said that they intend for Disney Plus to be supported by all major devices that stream video.
Disney+ is going to be great. I suggest buying it because it comes at a fantastic price with all the amazing movies that are going to be on it. I suggest all of you go home and beg for your parents to get Disney+ because there will be something for them to be nostalgic about too.