Ten million people can't all be wrong. That's how many subscribers Disney+ had after one day of life . A good chunk of those undoubtedly were preorders, but that only makes the case for Disney+ stronger.
There's no one single streaming service that has every show and scratches every itch. But there's also no denying it: Disney+ — which in addition to its namesake content also includes Star Wars and Marvel and Pixar and National Geographic, to say nothing of The Simpsons and other 20th Century Fox content — is a beast. An absolute unit, as the kids used to say.
And I'd argue you can't really review a streaming service. At least certainly not one of this scope and caliber. It simply is . It hulks (excuse the pun) over just about every other service, save for perhaps Netflix. But even that is a different sort of beast. Disney+ is on a plane of its own. It's affordable. And it has more shows than you could ever watch.
And it's only going to get bigger and better over time with even more original content.
Let's dive in.
The mega service
The value of Disney+ starts with the word "Disney" and only builds from there, with the likes of Marvel and Star Wars and Pixar and National Geographic only making it that much stronger.
The most important part
Disney+ Review: The Content is What Matters
A streaming service without anything to watch is hardly a streaming service at all. (We'll also accept "Apple TV+" as a more snarky answer. But we knew from the time Disney+ was announced that content wouldn't be a problem for the fledgling service. That would be true if Disney+ only included programs under the Disney umbrella. But with the addition of Lucasfilm, Pixar, National Geographic and 20th Century Fox, it's hard to overstate just how many TV shows, movies and shorts are on Disney+. And it would be true if Disney were never to shoot another frame of video.
In other words, a company with a hundred years of content under its belt has quite vault. This is one time when the cliche of "There's something for everyone" couldn't be more true.
But Disney+ isn't just about the vault. It isn't just about the existing Marvel Cinematic Universe. It isn't just about Star Wars as we know it through 2019's The Rise of Skywalker . It isn't just about Toy Story and Cars . It's not just about every Simpsons episode ever.
Disney+ very much is about bringing Disney's past — and the past of the other companies it's purchased in recent years — into the future. But new content is what drives new subscriptions. And while The Mandalorian rightfully got all the Day 1 headlines, it's easy to forget how much more Disney has coming down the pike.
Thus far announced in Live Action Series:
- High School Musical: The Musical: The Series (Available now)
- Diary of a Female President (January 2020)
- The Falcon and The Winter Soldier (Year 1)
- Love, Simon (Year 1)
- Hawkeye (Year 2)
- Loki (Year 2)
- WandaVision (Year 2)
- Untitled Cassian Andor Series (Year 2)
- Lizzie McGuire (Upcoming)
- Untitled Ms. Marvel Series (Upcoming)
- Untitled Moon Knight Series (Upcoming)
- Untitled Obi-Wan Kenobi Series (Upcoming)
- Untitled She-Hulk Series (Upcoming)
Or let's consider new Animated Series and Shorts:
- Forky Asks a Question (Available now)
- SparkShorts (Available now)
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Year 1)
- Chip 'n' Dale (Year 1)
- Lamp Life (Year 1)
- Marvel's What If ...? (Year 2)
- Monsters At Work (Upcoming)
- Short Circuit (Year 1)
Or how about documentaries, unscripted series and live specials:
- Encore! (Available now)
- The Imagineering Story (Available now)
- The World According to Jeff Goldblum (Available now)
- (Re)Connect (Year 1)
- Be Our Chef (Year 1)
- Dolphin Reef (Year 1)
- Into the Unknown: Making Frozen 2 (Year 1)
- Magic of Animal Kingdom (Year 1)
- Marvel's 616 (Year 1)
- Marvel's Hero Project (Available now)
- Muppets Now (Year 1)
- Prop Culture (Year 1)
- Rogue Trip (Year 1)
- Shop Class (Year 1)
- Earthkeepers (Year 2)
- Ink And Paint (Year 2)
Or new original films:
- Lady and the Tramp (Available now)
- Noelle (Available now)
- Florida & Ulysses (Year 1)
- The Phineas and Ferb Movie: Candace Saves the Universe (Year 1)
- Secret Society of Second Born Royals (Year 1)
- Stargirl (Year 1)
- Timmy Failure (Year 1)
- Togo (December 2020)
You can't help but compare all that to another new streaming service. Apple+ launched just a week and a half before Disney+. With exactly four new shows — only one of which is considered good, and one that's pretty unwatchable — and no back catalog of content. Whereas Apple has attempted to act like it's been in the business for a century, Disney very much has reminded us that it very much has a five-truck convoy in Disney+.
Or to put it simply, Disney rules content. The only other service that compares is Netflix, but even then Disney is on a different plane when it comes not just to quantity, but also quality.
The next-most important part
Disney+ Review: Parity in the Platform
Just as a streaming platform is worthless without content, the content is worthless if nobody can see it. Disney very loudly purchased BAMTech, the company behind the platform on which ESPN+ was built. And that platform has proven to be strong under the crush of high-profile live sporting events. Disney also controls Hulu, which has been doing the streaming thing longer than just about anyone.
And while you can't help but give Disney a hard time for its platforms struggling on launch day, I'm more inclined to say that the crush of 10 million new subscribers was almost certain to tax any back-end system. And, indeed, the Great Disney+ Outage of 2019 seemed to be measured more in hours than in days.
What's been more surprising is just how good the Disney+ app experience has been across devices and across platform. You'd expect it to be quick on an Apple TV 4K or NVIDIA Shield — two of the best and most powerful pieces of hardware a streamer can own. Same goes for phones and tablets. But it's also excellent on lower-powered hardware like Roku and Amazon Fire TV. Perhaps not quite as fast, and perhaps not quite as smooth. But still plenty quick. And maybe more important is that the experience is consistently good. There's really not a noticeable drop from one platform to another.
That's maybe a niche thing to notice, but that's the sort of resilience that makes it easy to recommend a service.
So feel free to pay for Disney+ and use it on pretty much everything. Roku. Fire TV. Apple TV. Android TV. PlayStation. Xbox. Your phone. Your tablet. The web. Chromecast. AirPlay. It all works great.
There is only small hole in that lineup, though — Vizio TVs. There's no native app for Vizio's SmartCast operating system. (They say it's coming sometime in 2020.) And as of this writing, the built-in Chromecast protocol in modern Vizio TVs doesn't play nice with Disney+. That's a blip, to be sure — and huge one if you rely on SmartCast.
Disney+ Review: The Boost of the Bundle
You can't talk about Disney+ without talking about Hulu. And without talking about ESPN+. Disney (the corporation) rules all three, and all three are available bundled at a cool $12.99 a month — about $6 less than what you'd pay for them separately.
If you're signing up for each of these services anew, it's a simple endeavor. If you're trying to piece together existing accounts, it's a little trickier. (Be sure to use the same email address with each service.)
And while it might seem a little overkill to be discussing three streaming services in the review for a single service, this is one that makes a whole lot of sense. Disney+ has a lot . But it doesn't have everything. In fact, the Venn diagram doesn't really overlap all that much, if you think about it. Disney, Star Wars, Marvel, NatGeo and Pixar in one circle. Handmaids and non-Disney fare in another. Sports in the third.
And the future of streaming truly is in the bundle, especially as companies continue to consolidate. Maybe they'll bundle under one umbrella, as Disney has been able to do. And maybe we'll see competitors team up in a sort of streaming Realpolitik , the better to take on Disney.
But this much is clear: If you're at all a fan of Disney, and of what Hulu has, and of sports on ESPN — especially the non-prime-time stuff that doesn't make it onto ESPN proper — you simply can't beat this, and it raises the value of Disney+ that much more.
The best of three worlds
Disney+ is a massive behemoth. But it's also just one part of the Disney strategy. Team it up with Hulu and ESPN+ for less than the cost of all three separately and you've got a serious streaming experience.
So is it worth it?
Should you get Disney+? Absolutely, Probably, Maybe, Eventually
For as magical as Disney+ is — and to be clear, it has a ridiculously deep catalog — the decision to subscribe or not really isn't different than any other streaming service.
You have to decide for yourself if it has the shows you want to watch, and enough of them to make the $6.99 or $12.99 a month worth it. What's important to me likely will be different to you.
The common factor, though, is children. If you have kids of any age and intend (or not, though you will at some point) to babysit them with a screen of some kind, you almost have to subscribe to Disney+. It should be included in the take-home kit from the hospital. It should be handed out at the pediatrician. It should be awarded at the end of pre-school and made mandatory by Kindergarten.
Because I'd rather a kid rot their budding brain to Captain American and Belle and Yoda — hell, even Bart Simpson — than to anything on YouTube.
But at the end of the day, it's really the simple measure of whether Disney+ has what you want. And there's an excellent chance that if somehow it doesn't have what you want today, you'll find something you like there in the months and years to come.
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