The streaming wars are raging, and audiences have more options than ever before when it comes to streaming video platforms. While every network, studio, online retailer, and media company seems to have their own direct-to-consumer video service either online or in the works, much of the recent conversation surrounds two platforms: Netflix and Disney Plus.
Netflix is the longstanding industry leader, while Disney Plus will be home to many of the most iconic characters and franchises in the world. They both have tremendous appeal, leading to no shortage of debate regarding which service is the better investment.
Deciding which service to subscribe to won’t be easy — but if the price is right, why choose? With the sheer volume of content that Netflix offers and the library of popular properties under the Disney banner, the combination of both platforms arguably offers the best one-two punch in the streaming landscape.
There’s been a lot of buzz about Netflix losing some of its most popular licensed projects.
In what has quickly become a sign of the times, two of the platform’s most widely watched shows, Friends and The Office, now seem increasingly likely to leave the service within the next two years for exclusivity on NBC Universal’s own streaming platform — that is, unless Netflix is willing to pay an astronomical price to keep them. Meanwhile, Disney has been gradually pulling its Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, and other iconic franchises off Netflix in preparation for the launch of Disney Plus.
Bearish pundits have suggested that this could be the beginning of the end for Netflix, but if you look deeper it becomes clear that the streaming service has known this day would come and has been preparing accordingly — and frantically — for some time.
Netflix has developed a well-deserved reputation in recent years for casting a wide net when it comes to original and co-produced content under its banner. The company adds a massive amount of new series and films every month, spending lavishly on original productions and co-productions with smaller studios that become “Netflix Original” content. In doing so, Netflix gives a home to independent and lower-budget projects that would otherwise fly under the radar of major studios and TV networks.
It’s a strategy that delivers a huge amount of choice for Netflix subscribers, and although the volume can occasionally be overwhelming, when a show or movie clicks with audiences, it does so in a big way. House of Cards, Stranger Things, and more recently, shows like The Umbrella Academy and The Haunting of Hill House, have managed to generate both critical acclaim and the sort of viral buzz traditional networks and streaming rivals strive for — and they’ve done so without well-known franchises behind them.
It’s safe to say that subscribers will never lack for intriguing, fresh content.
Netflix isn’t showing any signs of reducing the amount of money it’s pouring into new projects, instead ramping up each year, including as much as $12 billion last year and an estimated $15 billion in 2019, according to Variety. Not every new program or film coming to the service isn’t going to be a hit, of course, but it’s safe to say that subscribers will never lack for intriguing, fresh content to consume as time goes on.
On the other side of the streaming coin, there are few media companies that offer the sort of reliably entertaining spectrum of content that Disney Plus is capable of providing its subscribers.
Even before Disney acquired 21st Century Fox and its massive vault of intellectual properties, the wealth of programming just from the Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, and Disney franchises alone would have been enough to make Disney Plus an attractive platform — especially at its meager $7-per-month starting price. Those four libraries account for billions of dollars in both the theatrical and home-entertainment markets worldwide, and they’re only getting bigger.
The $71.3 billion Fox acquisition sweetened the possibilities further for Disney Plus, which is now primed to offer even more content from some of the biggest superhero, sci-fi, and fantasy franchises, including Aliens, Avatar, X-Men, and many more.
Still, despite that massive pool of characters and universes to draw from, Disney has given every indication that it plans to take a more gradual, focused approach to its streaming offerings. Each project announced for Disney Plus so far feels meticulously curated and quality-controlled, bringing in the best and brightest talents both in front of and behind the camera.
Star Wars spinoff series The Mandalorian features some of Hollywood’s most in-demand filmmakers, for example, while the various Marvel Cinematic Universe shows bring back the actors from big-screen blockbusters like Avengers: Endgame.
Looking at the big picture for Disney Plus, there’s a sense that the hits will far outnumber the misses on the platform, and subscribers won’t lack for mainstream-friendly programming that lives up to Disney’s high standards.
When it comes to getting the most entertainment bang for your bucks, the combination of Netflix and Disney Plus is just as appealing from a cost perspective as it is from the content side.
The most expensive Netflix subscription runs $16 per month for multiple streams and 4K HDR programming, while Disney Plus will hook you at the start for just $7 (or a cheaper $70 for a full year), though we expect the price to go up from there. Even so, given that the typical cable television package runs around $40 per month, the amount of content in a $23 monthly Netflix/Disney Plus pairing certainly feels like a steal. (Add in a subscription to Amazon Prime, which many people already have for the shipping discounts it offers, and Disney-owned Hulu at $6 monthly and the wealth of content is even more impressive, and still less costly than cable TV.)
Even for the most voracious media consumers, that’s a lot of TV for the price — which makes it appealing on another level, too.
The Perfect Mix
On one hand, Netflix offers a dizzying amount of content that covers a ridiculously wide spectrum of genres, formats, and audiences. On the other hand, Disney Plus offers reliably well-crafted content that puts quality over quantity and serves up some of the best movies and television produced over the years.
Individually, they couldn’t be more different when it comes to their approach to streaming.
Put them together, however, and they’re the peanut butter and jelly of the streaming video environment. Rather than sacrificing quantity for quality or vice versa, they seem to offer the best of both worlds — and at a reasonable price, too.
So why agonize over which service is better when you can pair them up? They’re shaping up to be two great streaming flavors that taste even better together.
The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not reflect the beliefs of Digital Trends.
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