With Disney now owning the largest library of content in the world through a series of deals and acquisitions, the company has put together all the building blocks it needs to launch a massive streaming service. That service, Disney+, now has a release date and we have some idea about pricing and available content. Here's everything we know.
What is Disney+?
Disney+ is a new streaming video on demand (SVOD) service owned and operated by the Walt Disney Direct-to-Consumer and International company.
Think of it as being like the other services you have but with a focus on content developed solely by Disney and the other studios it controls or owns.
When Will Disney+ launch?
Disney+ will launch in the United States on 12 November 2019. Given Disney controls almost all of their own content, it will be able to offer its library almost immediately globally without being as encumbered as other services.
I'm hopeful the service will launch here before the end of the year, possibly in November when it kicks off in the USA.
What will Disney+ cost?
Disney+ will come with the first month free, as do most similar services. US pricing has been set at $6.99 per month after the free trial. If we take that US price and simply translate that to Aussie dollars and slap on some GST, a $9.99 price seems likely.
Amazon Prime costs just $59 per year and includes music, Twitch and other services as well.
Stan pricing plans start at $10 per month with $14 and $17 options as well.
Netflix Australian pricing is similar with its top tier costing a little more at $17.99.
It looks like Disney+ will launch with a single pricing tier. So figure on it costing a tenner each month.
What content will be available on Disney+?
Disney has made a series of important acquisitions over the last few years. It now controls or has access to some of the biggest franchises and studios in the world.
Among some of Disney's most significant acquisitions are Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, Pixar, 21st Century Fox, Hulu and The Muppets.
Here's what we know Disney+ will be offering.
- The Mandolorian: A live-action Star Wars series written and executive produced by Jon Favreau.
- Monsters at Work: Billy Crystal and John Goodman are back as Mike and Sully, exploring more of the Monsters Inc universe.
- Marvel 616 (working title): A documentary series that explores the historical, cultural, and societal context that has become congruous with Marvel’s legacy stories.
- Un-named Loki and Scarlet Witch series : These will trace the stories of these characters outside their roles in the MCU. Expect some gratuitous cameos to pique interest in the early episodes.
- Un-named Star Wars project : Diego Luna will reprise his role as Andor and tell us more about the years before Rogue One in another expansion of the Star Wars universe.
- The Curiosity of Jeff Goldblum: a documentary series where Goldblum pulls back the curtain on a seemingly familiar object to reveal a world of astonishing connections, fascinating science and a whole lot of big ideas.
- Magic of Animal Kingdom: Takes viewers behind the scenes with the highly respected animal-care experts, veterinarians and biologists at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Epcot’s SeaBase aquarium.
- Into the Unknown: Making Frozen 2: The marketing spiel says "a documentary series showing the hard work and imagination that go into making one of the most highly anticipated Walt Disney Animation Studios features of all time".
- Be Our Chef: Hosted by Angela Kinsy from The Office, this show takes families from diverse backgrounds and gets them to create new menu items for Disney's respire and theme park restaurants.
- Encore!: High school classmates get back together to reproduce the musicals they participated in. This will be hosted by Kristen Bell.
- Marvel's Hero Project: This series (produced in partnership with Marvel New Media) spotlights real-life heroes who are making remarkable, positive changes in their own communities
That gives the service a huge advantage over other services.
For example, they can take established properties such as the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and add to them - something it's already doing with Loki and Scarlet Witch series in development. And there's Marvel's What if..." that will explore events in the MCU and turn them on their head.
They could take characters from The Simpsons and give them their own series or spin-off features, even experimenting with different animation styles.
And let's not forget all the incredibly popular movies they've been making for over 50 years.
These are things the other SVOD services simply can't do.
And while Disney is often associated with family entertainment, they also own Miramax which gives access to Quentin Tarantino's library of movies, the Halloween series of horror films as well as a bunch of other more grown-up content.
It's the kind of library that will make other services look tiny in comparison.
What devices will Disney+ work on?
The November launch date is significant as it's when many new TV models are launched. So, we can expect new TVs that arrive in time for Christmas to either include a Disney+ app or be able to receive an app through an over-the-air update.
Versions for Android and iOS are a given. That means Chromecast support will be there although we cannot be as certain with AirPlay2.
Netflix recently ended AirPlay support, saying they can't guarantee service quality now that AirPlay is more widely supported. But I'd be surprised if that's the case with Disney+ which will be trying to maximise audience rather than making life harder.
An Apple TV app is a given and it's possible other connected devices such as WiFi-enabled DVD players and set-top boxes such as FetchTV will also get an app assuming the hardware can handle the streaming workload.
What does this mean for Netflix, Stan, Prime and the other SVOD services?
Netflix has seen the writing on the wall and has been developing its own content for some time. But the tentpole series that helped them build their reputation, shows like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black have ended and the new content that has followed has been great but hasn't garnered the same sort of popularity and acclaim.
Stan and Prime have been developing their own content as well.
But Disney+ has a massive advantage. As well as the massive library they own and control, they have massive production capability and the rights to characters and concepts that almost guarantee them market success.
When Stan and Prime entered the market, Netflix had a strong position and those services didn't have the resources and content libraries to really trouble it. But Disney is a different kettle of fish.
Earlier this year, Stan inked a deal with Disney to access a bunch of Disney content. And while there's little doubt the deal will be honoured, it's unlikely to be extended.
The beauty of SVOD is that it is commitment free and relatively cheap. But when you add up the cost of different subscription services, they start to look like an old-school Foxtel bill.
I'd expect the incumbent services to lose some subscribers over time.