Disney+: Everything we know about the new streaming service

What is Disney+?

In September 2017, Disney announced plans to create its own streaming video service to challenge Netflix, Hulu, and similar high-end streamers. Just over a year later, that service was given a name, Disney+, and we got our first look at the service in all its Disney-fied glory, as well as news of a price point of $7 per month and a launch date of November 12 at midnight (PT) in the U.S.

Disney later announced that the service will be available in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain on March 31, 2020. As of September 23, 2019, you can pre-order your Disney+ subscription.

Disney+ is intended to compete with industry leader Netflix and the various other direct-to-consumer streaming video platforms currently available 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 live-action Star Wars and Marvel Cinematic Universe spinoffs.

Here’s everything we know about Disney+ so far.

Which devices will it support?

Disney+ will be available on iOS, Apple TV (tvOS), Google Chromecast, Android, Android TV, PlayStation 4, Roku, Xbox One, and Amazon Fire TV devices at launch. In addition, it was announced during an earnings call in early November that the app will be available on Samsung and LG smart TVs.

If you’re an Apple device owner, or you have one of the many smart TVs and streaming devices that feature the Apple’s tvOS App, you’ll be able to subscribe to (and watch) Disney+ within that all-in-one streaming interface. Disney+ will also support in-app purchases on Apple devices.

How much will it cost?

Disney+ will cost $7 per month at launch, or $70 per year. Programming will be ad-free, although you’ll see some banner advertisements for Starz, the premium cable network, on the login page. Reportedly, Disney signed over the streaming rights for some of its movies (most notably Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens) to Starz a few years back, and had to give Starz something in order to get those films on Disney+. The banner ads are the compromise.

But there’s more to the story. Disney+ isn’t Disney’s only streaming service. Thanks to its acquisition of 21st Century Fox, Disney also controls Hulu, and if you want to subscribe to both, you have options. In addition to the Disney+ stand-alone service, Hulu Senior Vice President Craig Erwich says that you’ll also be able to get Disney+ as a Hulu add-on.

Similar to other add-ons, like HBO, subscribing to Disney+ through Hulu means that you’ll have to use the Hulu app to watch shows like The Mandalorian and Falcon and Winter Soldier, but it also means that you’ll be able to keep all of your shows in one place. If HBO is any indication, Disney+ should cost the same — $7 –whether you get it through Hulu or all by its lonesome.

In addition, if you want Disney+, ESPN+, and Hulu (with ads), Disney offers a bundle that will include all three for $13 a month, which is $5 cheaper than subscribing to all three separately.

What will it include?

The short answer is a whole heckuva lot.

At launch, Disney+ will host hundreds of Disney-related movies and television series. Classic animated features like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Pinocchio will be there, as will modern-day Disney Channel fare like Descendants, vintage live-action features including The Parent Trap and Old Yeller, forgotten oddities like the made-for-TV Fuzzbucket, a huge collection of ’90s Marvel cartoons, almost every Star Wars flick (sans Solo and The Last Jedi for now), Pixar movies, and much, much more.

It was also recently announced that the service will include most Marvel movies (16), as well, with only seven of the films (including Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther, and Avengers: Infinity War) unavailable until 2020 due to a licensing agreement with Netflix. That’s likely the reason you won’t get Solo or The Last Jedi on Disney+ at launch, as well, which are also on Netflix.

It’s a lot, so be sure to check out the complete list — or, if you have time, check out the three-plus-hour video Disney put together, which previews pretty much everything it will offer at launch.

But there’s so much more. A few days before Halloween, news broke that Disney is moving ahead with a sequel to its 1993 family-friendly horror-comedy Hocus Pocus for Disney+. Screenwriter Jen D’Angelo (Workaholics) has signed on as screenwriter, but Collider claims that Disney has yet to lock down the first film’s three stars, Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy. However, the new Hocus Pocus is still in early pre-production, and Disney remains hopeful that the original trio of witches will return for the sequel.

After launch, expect more to follow. Almost every single movie in the Disney catalog will eventually be available on Disney+, according to Disney CEO Bob Iger, including all of the animated films previously locked away in the Disney “vault”. The one exception is Disney’s Song of the South, which Disney has buried since the ’80s due to its racially insensitive content (a racist scene from the animated Dumbo will be removed for Disney+, too).

Newer Disney movies like Frozen 2Toy Story 4, Star Wars: Episode IX — The Rise of Skywalker, and the live-action remake of The Lion King will appear on Disney+ sometime after their theatrical and home-video releases. The record-busting conclusion to Marvel’s Infinity Saga, Avengers: Endgame, will be available at launch.

Naturally, Disney+ will also be home to original series, including a number of Star Wars projects. The first-ever live-action Star Wars TV series, The Mandalorian, which follows the adventures of an outer-space gunslinger shortly after the events of the original Star Wars trilogy, is the big-ticket item as far as new content for Disney+ at launch. The first season of The Mandalorian will be eight episodes long, and a second season is already in preproduction.

More on Disney+

An action show focusing on Obi-Wan Kenobi is also in the works, with Ewan McGregor confirmed to reprise the role he played in the three Star Wars prequels. Production is set to begin in 2020. The show will be set around the same time as Solo: A Star Wars Story, when Obi-Wan Kenobi is hiding on Tatooine and protecting young Luke Skywalker from afar, which opens the door for all kinds of interesting stories.

Disney+ will also (eventually) stream a still-untitled Rogue One prequel following Rebel spy Cassian Andor and his reformed Imperial security droid K-2SO. Both Diego Luna and Alan Tudyk will reprise their Rogue One roles.

Other Star Wars adventures in the works include a new season of the award-winning Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series, set to debut on Disney+ in February 2020.

Apart from the films, Disney+ will also include (at least) seven exclusive live-action series tied directly to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, all of which will feature established MCU actors. In fall 2020, Falcon and Winter Soldier will follow up on the end of Avengers: Endgame by showing what happens after Sam Wilson takes charge of Captain America’s shield — and Cap’s legacy. In spring 2021, Loki will tell the story of the alternate-universe trickster god who escaped with the Tesseract during Endgame‘s time-travel shenanigans, while WandaVision will help set up the film Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. In fall 2021, Hawkeye will see Jeremy Renner’s Clint Barton train his replacement, a young woman named Kate Bishop.

Later still, Ms. Marvel, She-Hulk, and Moon Knight will introduce some new heroes to the MCU, although all three of those characters should be familiar to Marvel’s true believers. Kamala Khan, Jen Walters, and Marc Spector are expected to join their fellow MCU castmates on the big screen once their respective series have debuted.

An animated Marvel series called What If? will explore what would have happened if certain events in the MCU had transpired differently. For example, the first episode will explore a world in which Peggy Carter, not Captain America, received the super-soldier serum, transforming her into a hero called Captain Carter. Almost every major MCU actor will return to voice their big-screen characters, although Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., and Chris Pratt don’t seem to be on board. What If? will run for 23 episodes — one for each MCU film so far.

The Jim Henson Company is producing a new, mostly unscripted comedy for Disney+. Earth to Ned is a half-hour talk show in the same vein as The Tonight Show and The Late Show, but with a twist: It’s hosted by a blue alien. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Earth to Ned will see the extraterrestrial interview real-life celebrities instead of focusing on his real mission, preparing Earth for an alien invasion. Earth to Ned is The Jim Henson Company’s second big streaming project — in summer 2019, the company produced Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance for Netflix.

disney plus streaming service news earth to ned  talkshow set

Other original Disney+ series include Muppets Now, a “short-form unscripted series;” Monsters at Work, a cartoon based on Pixar’s Monsters, Inc. franchise; a Toy Story 4 spinoff called Forky Asks a Question; a Hannah Montana revival; and other live-action and animated fare for adults and young adults alike. Certain Fox properties, including Home Alone, are slated for Disney+ remakes, while several unscripted series and original content from National Geographic are also in the works.

You can see the full list of original Disney+ series here.

Impressive video and audio quality

The service was revealed to offer 4K resolution with HDR support upon its initial unveiling, but news from Disney’s D23 Expo gave cinephiles and A/V fans even more to be excited about. As confirmed by Dolby directly, Disney+ will offer content in both Dolby Vision, Dolby’s dynamic version of HDR that offers evolving content to supported TVs squeeze the best contrast out of each scene, as well as Dolby Atmos, which provides an immersive, hemispheric soundstage for those with supported hardware.

While Dolby Vision is becoming more common, both Vision and Atmos are still rarities in streaming land, supported by only a few services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, and only with select content. We don’t yet know what content will boast either of Dolby’s A/V enhancements on Disney+, but if its streaming rivals are any indication, Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos will likely only be offered for newer original series like The Mandalorian, and possibly newer Disney film releases.

For those wondering about family viewing, Disney+ will offer four simultaneous streams at once on its service for its basic $7-per-month fee.

Release date and 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? Disney+ will debut on November 12 in the US, with over 600 movies and TV shows available at launch, including The Mandalorian. Canada and The Netherlands get the service on the same day, with Australia and New Zealand getting it the following week, and the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain on March 31, 2020.

The company also showed off a prototype of its new service’s app, which 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.

How big will it be?

In June 2019, Morgan Stanley analyst Benjamin Swinburne projected that Disney+ could have 13 million subscribers by the end of 2020, and 50 million subscribers across all of its online video services, which include Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+. By 2024, the analyst projected that Disney+ 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+, as compared to the 25-30% that have Netflix subscriptions. It’s been reported that the service already amassed one million subscribers ahead of launch thanks to pre-orders.

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. The streaming provider eventually decided to pull the plug.

As initially promised by Disney, the existing episodes of every show will remain exclusively available to view on Netflix. However, Marvel TV teased that these 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+ 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+, 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.

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