By Dave B.
Disney Plus is finally here. But is it any good? Is it worth replacing Netflix? What audiences will benefit the most from the new streaming platform? Well, I’m going to answer those questions (and more) for you as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Is Disney Plus Good?
That depends upon your definition of “good”. The user interface is solid and will be familiar to users of Netflix. One positive feature is that it doesn’t start playing a movie while you’re still deciding if you want to watch it or not. That always annoys the hell out of me. Content on the platform is divided into Disney’s main properties: Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic, as well as categories such as “Movies”, “Series”, and “Originals”. These are obviously logical groupings and it’s very easy to find what you want, even without using the search function. Unsurprisingly, the app is still very buggy. I had to restart it a few times in order to watch the first episode of The Mandalorian. Annoying, yes, but problems on Day One are to be expected. More disappointing is that Disney rolled out the platform with a very limited slate of Original programming. 12 programs, to be exact. And of those 12, only the Mandalorian really caught my interest.
Is Disney Plus Better Than Netflix?
In short, no. But it might be better to say “not yet”. Netflix has thousands of hours of original content in many different languages, across many different genres. Even Disney’s huge content library can’t really compete with that. However, to be fair, Disney isn’t trying to offer the breadth of content that Netflix has. It’s trying to cash in on its most popular properties by offering them exclusively through its own platform and I think that it will largely be successful at that. Given enough time, Disney will certainly offer a plethora of original programs that will appeal to diverse audiences. But we’re likely talking years down the road, not weeks or months. So, for someone like me who likes to see new, original programming, Disney Plus is more of a complimentary service to Netflix, instead of an outright replacement and if I had to choose one over the other, I would stick with Netflix. For now.
Which Viewers Get the Most Out of Disney Plus?
The most obvious answer is: families with younger children. Despite my long-held belief that children should be discouraged from watching Disney movies, I understand that pretty much nobody is going to follow that advice, and Disney Plus contains nearly the entirety of Disney’s content library. If you need to entertain your kid, this is the most complete one-stop shop that you could hope for. It’s also a must-have for fans of Marvel and/or Star Wars as it includes nearly all of the Disney-owned content from those franchises. Like the animated Star Wars series’? They’re all there. Fan of Agent Carter? Yes, its there too. And even if someone is not interested in Disney’s mass-market entertainment offerings, the inclusion of National Geographic on the platform means that pretty much any person with access to viewing technology and a broadband connection can see something of interest to them, so long as they don’t mind it being something that they have probably seen before. However, one thing that REALLY annoys me about the platform is Disney’s decision to release new episodes for all of its original programs on a weekly basis. Yes, this helps reduce subscriber churn (which is good for the company), but one of the benefits of streaming (for viewers) is that when all episodes are released at once, you can watch them at whatever pace you choose. One could still do that by only paying for the Disney Plus service once the full season of whatever show you want to watch is complete, but that’s inconvenient (for me personally) so I’ll just quietly resent Disney a bit (forever) for their episode release decision.
If I Already Have Hulu (or ESPN Plus), How Does the Bundle Work?
If you already have Hulu, they’ll credit your account at the base, ad-supported rate. For example, I have ad-free Hulu. So Disney will credit my Disney Plus bill for $5.99 per month (the cost of ad-supported Hulu), meaning that I’ll end up paying about $8.00 per month to gain access to both Disney Plus and ESPN Plus. I’ll continue to be billed separately for ad-free Hulu at the rate that I was previously paying. All in all, this is an elegant solution. My main problem with it being that it’s questionable if the combination of Disney Plus and ESPN Plus is worth $8.00 per month to me.
Disney Plus is a solid, but not spectacular, new streaming service. If you ask me if it’s worth buying now, my answer would be a reluctant “no”. At least not for someone who does not have children and who is interested in original programming. A year from now, my opinion will likely be different and two years from now, it certainly will be. That said, I can never see it having the diversity of programming that would enable me to only have it (and ESPN Plus and Hulu) to the exclusion of other streaming platforms. In other words, I see it more as a welcome add-on than as a core holding.
I have no clue what I'm doing, but I'll keep doing whatever it is to the best of my ability.