In September 2017, Disney announced plans to create its own streaming video service — a platform created to challenge Netflix, Hulu, and similar high-end streamers. Just over a year later, that service was given a name, Disney Plus, and we got our first look at the service in all its Disney-fied glory, as well as information on pricing and a launch date of November 12, 2019.
Disney Plus (also known as Disney+) is intended to compete with industry leader Netflix and the various other direct-to-consumer streaming video platforms currently in use and in development. It won’t have as many movies or television shows as Netflix and its ilk, but Disney hopes to draw customers in with lots of high-profile exclusive content and nearly every movie in Disney’s expansive library, including a number of previously hard-to-find animated features and blockbuster hits like Star Wars and Avengers: Endgame.
Here’s everything we know about Disney Plus so far.
How big will it be?
In June 2019, Morgan Stanley analyst Benjamin Swinburne projected that Disney Plus could have 13 million subscribers by the end of 2020, and 50 million subscribers across all of its online video services, which include Disney Plus, Hulu, and ESPN Plus. By 2024, the analyst projected that Disney Plus could have more than 130 million subscribers.
That projection is considered a conservative one, as it has just 10% of broadband-ready homes subscribing to Disney Plus, as compared to the 25-30% that have Netflix subscriptions.
What will it include?
The studio’s upcoming movie slate — which includes Frozen 2, Toy Story 4, Star Wars: Episode IX — The Rise of Skywalker, and the live-action remake of The Lion King — will also have exclusive streaming availability on the service, with Captain Marvel becoming the first Marvel Cinematic Universe movie not available on Netflix. The record-busting conclusion to Marvel’s Infinity Saga, Avengers: Endgame, won’t be available on Disney Plus at launch, but it will be there by December 11, according to Disney’s financial reports.
Approximately 7,000 episodes of television series and 400 to 500 movies are expected to be available on the service when it launches, including some of the aforementioned shows and films. Compared to Disney Plus’ biggest competitor, Netflix, that’s not a lot. According to a study by research firm Ampere Analysis, Disney Plus’ television show totals only amount to 16% of what Netflix offers. Netflix’s movie library is also eight times bigger than Disney Plus’ launch lineup. In terms of sheer numbers, Disney Plus also falls short of Hulu, Amazon Prime, CBS All Access, and HBO Go.
What Disney Plus lacks in volume, however, it’s making up in quality: Disney Plus will be the exclusive home to some of the biggest and most popular movies, shows, and franchises around. First and foremost among the content will be projects tied to Disney’s Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, and Disney-specific properties, with an overall family-friendly theme to the content.
Almost every single movie in the Disney catalog will eventually be available on the service, according to Disney CEO Bob Iger, dispensing with the so-called Disney “vault” that kept classic films locked away for extended periods. The one exception is Disney’s Song of the South, which Disney has more or less buried since the ’80s thanks to its racially insensitive content (a racist scene from the animated Dumbo will be removed for Disney Plus, too).
Disney Plus won’t just be a greatest-hits collection, though. There will be original content on the service, too.
Original Marvel shows planned for the service include series based on Hawkeye, Falcon and Winter Soldier, and Scarlet Witch and the Vision. A series following The Avengers villain Loki is also in the works, with the original MCU actors reprising their roles for the shows.
Another animated series called What If? will feature alternate-universe tales featuring MCU characters voiced by the live-action actors who portray them. The series will explore what would have happened if certain events in the MCU transpired differently.
Several original Star Wars projects are also in development, including the live-action series The Mandalorian and a still-untitled series following Rebel spy Cassian Andor, with Rogue One actor Diego Luna reprising his role from that film.
— Star Wars (@starwars) November 8, 2018
A series following Obi-Wan Kenobi has also been rumored (but not confirmed), and a new season of the award-winning Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series will debut on the service.
Among the other projects announced or rumored so far are a new Muppets series developed by actor Josh Gad and Once Upon A Time creators Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis, the Monsters at Work series based on Pixar’s Monsters, Inc. franchise, and various Disney Channel spinoff series, movies, and other live-action and animated fare for young adults. Several unscripted series are also in the works, as well as some non-Disney content from National Geographic and various assets the company acquired in its purchase of 21st Century Fox.
Pricing, release date, first look
Disney rolled out a long and somewhat star-studded presentation (does Jon Favreau count?) to investors on April 11 to give a first look at its new service, along with some intriguing details. The highlights? The service will cost $7 per month at launch or $70 per year (don’t be surprised if that price rises quickly) and is expected to arrive in November 2019.
The company also showed off a prototype of its new service which, frankly, looks very Netflix-y — but in a Disney kind of way. The smooth and clean interface offers a row of tiles at the top of its home screen differentiating the multiple tiers, including Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar, Disney, and National Geographic tiles for each of the service’s marquee properties.
Disney also shared some other details including a road map for the service’s first year, which is set to include 25 original series (starting with titles like its new Star Wars series The Mandalorian), a whole slate of films from its vault (including classics like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, The Little Mermaid, and Pinocchio), and, in a surprise reveal, all 30 seasons of The Simpsons, fresh off the brand’s new acquisition of Fox properties.
— Disney (@Disney) April 11, 2019
Initially identified as “Disney Play” by Iger in early interviews, the official Disney Plus name — and its logo — was revealed in a November 2018 earnings presentation, with a press release confirming the details shortly thereafter.
What it won’t include
In what could be a sign of things to come, Netflix announced a series of cancellations in late 2018 and early 2019 that brought its five live-action Marvel series to an end following their most recent seasons. Various reports indicated that Netflix and Disney had reached an impasse in negotiating the terms of the series’ continuation on the streaming service, with Netflix looking to reduce costs for future seasons, only for the streaming provider to eventually pull the plug.
As initially promised by Disney, however, the existing episodes of every show will remain exclusively available to view on Netflix. However, Marvel TV teased that the series could return elsewhere. “As Matthew Murdock’s Dad once said, ‘The measure of a man is not how he gets knocked to the mat, it’s how he gets back up. To be continued…!,” Marvel told Deadline. Could that mean a Disney Plus revival for Daredevil and his friends? It’s not out of the question.
In keeping with Disney’s family-friendly approach to programming, there won’t be any R-rated projects available on Disney Plus, either. Any movies or TV series that push the boundaries of Disney’s typical PG-13 audience will be diverted to Hulu, according to various reports. This includes titles like Marvel’s Deadpool.
Updated on June 14, 2019: Added projects for Disney Plus subscribers.
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