Disney+ Launches Today
The SVOD Wars are getting a lot of attention. Netflix continues to grow. Disney+ launches November 12 with content from Disney, Fox, Marvel, Pixar and ABC. Disney is also offering an option to bundle their new service, along with ESPN and Hulu. Apple has launched with a low price and lots of original content, plus a promotion tied to certain hardware purchases from Apple. YouTube has a paid service already in place, as does Hulu and Amazon (through Prime). ATT/Warner Media is reported to be launching HBO Max in mid-2020. Google may well offer a service.
Disney+ Launches Today
One thing is clear. More consumers will buy more SVOD services in the months and year ahead.
The Manatt-Vorhaus Digital Strategy Study released this summer indicates that of consumers who already subscribe to a Video on Demand or Streaming Service (74% of the US online population) indicate that they will buy 1.6 MORE VOD/Streaming services. So there is a real opportunity for a couple of new entrants to do well in the SVOD Wars.
Disney+ Launches Today
Consumers tell us that the most likely services to be picked for new/additional subscriptions are YouTube and Amazon, which are strong, existing services. Of the new entrants to this competition, Disney/Fox scores strongest with 23% of those likely to buy a new/additional service indicating they will pick Disney/Fox’s service. Note in the chart below that Apple and Warner Bros. both come in at 11%. The Disney and Fox brands clearly drive very strong interest in their new service. This data is based on a question about likelihood to subscribe to these services, and not based on any details about the service or their prices.
Apple has created a lot of attention with the low price at which they are offering their service to the public. Plus they are offering a free subscription for one year to the buyers of some of their hardware products. If Apple succeeds with their new originals then they may well strengthen their position in this race.
The SVOD Wars are costing big money for the companies competing and now we will see, starting November 12, how the Disney service is received by consumers. There is no end in sight for the SVOD Wars and we will continue to monitor consumers’ adoption of these services.
When’s the release date? Disney+ Launches Today
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.
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 preregister 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 preorder discount to its Disney faithful: Disney Parks annual passholders 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+ Launches Today
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 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.
What product features does the service include?
Disney Plus will be able to stream 4K Ultra HD content in Dolby Vision, HDR10 and Dolby Atmos immersive audio, but it hasn’t specified which titles or how many titles. Every Disney Plus account will be allowed to stream to four devices simultaneously and can create seven user profiles for different members of the household. Each account can pick an avatar of a Disney, Pixar, Marvel or Star Wars characters, with over 200 avatars available.
Disney Plus will also offer unlimited mobile downloads for offline viewing. Subscribers can download to up to 10 mobile or tablet devices, with no constraints on the number of times a title can be downloaded. The number of titles stored at one time on a device depends on how much storage space is available on the device.
The service will support English, Spanish, French and Dutch at launch, including both user interface as well as audio support and subtitles for library content, with additional languages available for Disney Plus originals.
The app also supports closed captioning, descriptive audio and navigation assistance to help subscribers with disabilities.
Shows and movies: What will I be able to watch?
Because Disney Plus is already up and running free in the Netherlands, sites like Just Watch have made the service’s catalog easy to search. However, because of the complexity of global licensing, titles available in the Netherlands may not be available in the US or other markets.
In October, Disney Plus’ social accounts went on a bender showing off “basically everything coming to Disney Plus.” An epic Twitter thread claimed to include every show and movie that would be available at launch, a three-hour-plus “trailer” on YouTube showed mini-clips of almost all those titles.
But the catalog remains in flux. Less than one week before launch, for example, Disney moved up the availability date of Avengers: Endgame. Instead of coming to Disney Plus on Dec. 11, the movie will be available to stream at launch. Within hours of launching, Disney added another eight Marvel titles.
Generally, Disney Plus will include content from the Disney brand itself, Marvel, Pixar, Star Wars and National Geographic. It’ll also integrate programming from Fox — all 30 seasons of The Simpsons will be on Disney Plus starting on day one, and more titles, like The Sound of Music, The Princess Bride and Malcolm in the Middle, will join it in the first year. In August, Disney said that it’ll go further than that, “reimagining” past Fox franchises “for a new generation.” Iger indicated a reboot of Home Alone is in the works, for one.
Disney Plus will be the only place you can stream all of Disney’s theatrically released movies, starting with Captain Marvel at launch and the rest of its 2019 slate later on. Frozen 2, for example, will be streamable on the service next summer after its theatrical release in November. Disney Plus will also house the entire film libraries of Pixar, Star Wars and its Signature Series and Disney Vault lines of classic hand-drawn animated movies. (Think Bambi, The Lion King, Snow White and so on.)
And of course, the company is developing a big slate of original, exclusive shows and movies for the service.
Major originals include The Mandalorian, a big-budget series starring Pedro Pascal about a bounty-hunting gunfighter that takes place five years after the events in The Return of the Jedi. Disney is investing heavily in The Mandalorian. Its budget reportedly approached $15 million per episode. By comparison, Game of Thrones didn’t hit that kind of spending until its final season. Executive producer Jon Favreau is already writing The Mandalorian’s second season.
A Star Wars prequel series based on Rogue One will star Diego Luna, who played Cassian Andor in the original movie.
And Disney has seven live-action series featuring the stars of its blockbuster Avengers movies in their own shows.
The first wave includes: The Falcon and the Winter Soldier with Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan in fall 2020; a Loki series featuring Tom Hiddleston in spring 2021; WandaVision with Elizabeth Olsen in her role of Scarlet Witch and Paul Bettany reprising The Vision in spring 2021; and a Hawkeye series in fall 2021, starring Jeremy Renner and featuring Kate Bishop, who in the comics becomes a second Hawkeye.
Then in August, the company unveiled three more, based on characters She-Hulk, Ms. Marvel and Moon Knight. In the comics, She-Hulk, or Jennifer Walters, is the cousin of Bruce Banner, whose superhuman powers transferred to her when she received a transfusion of Banner’s blood. Ms. Marvel, or Kamala Khan, is a teen protege of Captain Marvel’s Carol Danvers and is Marvel’s first Muslim character to headline her own comic book. The character Moon Knight, or Marc Spector, is a former mercenary and CIA agent who has multiple personalities and is imbued with powers from an Egyptian god.
At Comic Con in July, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige detailed how the studio’s Disney Plus shows are designed to be essential viewing for Marvel fans. The characters and narratives of the Marvel Cinematic Universe will be knitted together between theatrical movies and original series on Disney Plus.
Benedict Cumberbatch, for example, will be joined by Scarlet Witch actress Elizabeth Olsen in May 2021’s theatrical sequel Doctor Strange: In The Multiverse of Madness — but to understand how Olsen’s character arrived at the events on the big screen, you’ll need to watch the Disney Plus original Wandavision, slated to come out around the same time.
On the flip side, Avengers: End Game contains a clue to how Loki returns from his death to appear in the Disney Plus original Loki, set for spring 2021 too. Disney+ Launches Today
Disney Plus also will have original documentaries, reality shows, competition series, behind-the-scenes features, nature and adventure titles, animated programming — the list goes on. It may also be the place Disney premieres live-action short films that it’s creating in its Launchpad incubator program designed to elevate opportunities for filmmakers from underrepresented groups.
Even though all of Disney’s movies will stream exclusively on Disney Plus, the company doesn’t plan to debut any of its big-budget motion pictures on the service. That’s what’s known as a day-and-date approach, to release titles on the big screen and on a streaming service at the same time. It was Netflix’s strategy for years. Disney, however, plans for all its theatrical films like Star Wars and Marvel to run their course in theaters and home video before making them available with a digital subscription.
How will this affect Disney stuff on Netflix?
Disney will mostly disappear from Netflix by late 2019 (with a caveat).
Since 2016, Netflix has been the first place to watch Disney’s movies with a subscription. That deal meant Netflix was the go-to place for the biggest US blockbusters of the last three years. The top two movies of 2017 and the top three movies of 2016 and 2018 were all from Disney, and Netflix has been the place to binge them all. Disney+ Launches Today
But Disney decided against renewing that Netflix deal as it plotted its own competitor. Starting with Disney’s 2019 slate of movies, all those films are destined for Disney Plus. That means Captain Marvel, the first movie Disney released theatrically in 2019, will be the first movie on Disney Plus instead of Netflix. It also means that Mary Poppins Returns should be the final Disney movie that has some type of release window on Netflix.
Disney+ Launches Today
But licensing is complicated, and one report indicates Disney will return those movies to Netflix — and remove them from Disney Plus — temporarily starting in 2026. It affects movies released between January 2016 and December 2018, which includes Marvel titles like Captain America: Civil War, Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War; Star Wars hits like Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and The Last Jedi; and Pixar staples like Finding Dory, Coco and The Incredibles 2. It also touches family favorites like Moana and the live action Beauty and the Beast.
One consideration: Disney Plus won’t lose these titles until six years after the service launches. At that point, Disney Plus will have built a large permanent library of original content, and it will continue to funnel all its newest releases to Disney Plus and nowhere else. Presumably, that will take some of the sting out of losing these films for a limited time.
Netflix’s Marvel Defenders shows are complicated too. Netflix has put out five original series based on Defenders characters in partnership with Disney. In 2018, Netflix canceled three of them: Daredevil, Luke Cage and Iron Fist. Then in 2019, Netflix canceled the last two: The Punisher and Jessica Jones. Kevin Mayer, the Disney executive in charge of Disney Plus, has said Disney Plus could possibly revive the canceled shows. But the terms of their original deal could restrict Disney Plus from any revivals until 2020, according to a report.
With the third, and now final, season of Jessica Jones having hit Netflix in June, all we know about the future of these characters is Marvel Television chief Jeph Loeb teasing fans that the characters will continue in some form.
What shows and movies do you want to appear on Disney’s streaming service? Pop them into the comments section and we’ll keep updating this post with more information as it becomes available.
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Disney+ Launches Today