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Is Disney+ Really A Plus?

Disney chairman of direct-to-consumer products Kevin Mayer at D23: the Official Disney Fan Club. Photo credit: Polygon

Disney, to the gratitude of its fans, has created an outlet for all of the content we loved as young children. From High School Musical to The Sound of Music to The Muppet Movie, DisneyPlus has it all; hours of childhood entertainment, now at the touch of a button. 

Disney launched its online streaming service to the United States, Canada and the Netherlands on Tuesday, November 12th, 2019; it hit Australia and New Zealand on November 19th and finally, will reach most of Western Europe on March 31st, 2020. Referred to by Disney as the future of the company, DisneyPlus provides to its subscribers nearly all Disney content created to date including various Marvel, Pixar and Star Wars films.

The launch of DisneyPlus ignited a buzz of discussion around its place amongst other streaming services, most notably Netflix, Hulu and HBO Now. Like its competitors, DisneyPlus is streamable to most devices (Apple and Android products alike) and includes no advertising. With a library containing nearly 500 films and 7500 TV episodes, DisneyPlus falls short of its competitors; as of 2018, Netflix had 1569 TV series and 4010 movies, according to Business Insider. Hulu had an estimated 1650 TV series and 2500 movies, according to Diffen. However, DisneyPlus is the youngest of these services with lots of room to catch up, and will undoubtedly do so. 

Its subscription includes a $7 monthly purchase or alternatively, $70 for one year. However, Disney CFO Christine McCarthy prefaced her announcement of the service’s pricing with the adjective “initial,” implying that there will be a raise in price eventually. The current price is half of that of HBO Now and includes perks that will often be charged extra for, such as Netflix’s $16 a month option as opposed to its cheapest $9 option. The effect of the launch of DisneyPlus will be a consequent removal of most Disney titles from Netflix by the end of the year, with the exception of Disney films released between the years 2016 and 2018 which will remain on DisneyPlus only until 2026.

Price and library size are not the only ways DisneyPlus can be compared to its competitors; of course, there are the smaller aspects which do not go unnoticed by frequent watchers. To date, DisneyPlus has no feature similar to Netflix’s “Continue Watching” section; users must return directly to the series or film they were watching and find their stopping point. DisneyPlus is also distinct from its counterparts in that it releases new episodes weekly, or as they are released, unlike Netflix which notoriously releases shows by season, often months after the episodes originally aired. Another feature of DisneyPlus includes its content warning, which precedes a few of its older films such as “Peter Pan” and warns users that the film they are about to watch “may contain outdated cultural depictions.” This may highlight a turning point for Disney in which it becomes publicly aware of its sometimes problematic nature.  

Regardless of these factors, DisneyPlus’ launch by no means was overlooked. According to Disney on Wednesday, November 13th, the streaming service received over ten million registers within the first two days of launch. An easy comparison to make is to HBO Now, which took over three years to obtain five million registers. Such immediate growth points to the streaming service’s success not only at the current time, but in the future. This may call for a raise in pricing or updated features subscribers have yet to witness; the journey of Disney Plus has just begun.

Madeleine Farr is currently a sophomore at the Packer Collegiate Institute and is a reporter for the Prism this year. This is her first year on the Prism. She joined the Prism hoping to expand her journalism skills and learn more about the role it plays in communities today. In addition to writing for the Prism, Madeleine enjoys reading, art, playing volleyball for Packer, and going to Vivi Bubble Tea with her friends. Madeleine can be reached at mafarr@packer.edu.

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