Disney Plus streaming service: everything you need to know

Disney’s new streaming service, Disney Plus (or Disney+), is set to launch in November, in North America and the Netherlands, and in March 2020 in the UK and Europe.

A natural-born Netflix rival, it will offer both 4K and HD films and TV shows from Disney and its subsidiaries like Lucasfilm, Marvel and Pixar, and will be competitively priced.

So what will it show? When will Disney Plus launch? How much will it cost? And will it be better than Amazon Video and Netflix? Read on as we dig into what Disney Plus has to offer…

What is Disney Plus?

It’s Disney’s new streaming service. The Hollywood giant has seen what Netflix is doing and thought it could do with a piece of the action. To that end, Disney is taking its ball back and pulling its Star Wars and Marvel franchises from its now arch-rival.

It’s a wise move. Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and the forthcoming Apple TV Plus are building their streaming businesses on offering original content that you can’t see anywhere else. Disney’s nearly-century-old back catalogue – plus its lucrative subsidiaries – means there should be plenty to tempt viewers at launch, whereas its upstart rivals have had to start from scratch. In the streaming business, that’s a huge advantage.

Disney announced the service back in 2017, but only recently have we had firm details such as subscription pricing, launch date and region availability…

When does Disney Plus launch?

The service will go live on 12th November 2019 in the US, Canada and Netherlands. A week later it will launch in Australia and New Zealand. Sadly,  for the UK, France, Italy, Spain and Germany, it’s a case of waiting until 31st March 2020 owing to pre-existing licences for Disney content in those regions which don’t run out until then.

Disney says it wants to launch “in most major markets within the first two years” and there will be announcements on other regions in the near future.

Disney is investing heavily in the service, pulling out all the stops to deliver something to really rival the established services. By the end of 2020, Disney wants to have 90 million subscribers. Given the volume and quality of content it has to offer, would you bet against it?

How much does Disney Plus cost?

The big news is it’s cheaper than Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. The Disney streaming service will cost $6.99 per month in the US, where Netflix starts at $9 a month and Amazon’s monthly price is $8.99.

If you’d rather pay annually, it will cost you $70 a year. That’s a saving of around $14 on the monthly price. If you’re happy to sign up to three years of Disney+ now, you could save a pretty penny. The House of Mouse recently launched discounted pre-orders for the service, offering a three-year-deal for $23 off the regular price – that works out at just $3.92 per month.

How about elsewhere? Disney Plus will be priced at $8.99CAD per month (or $89.99 per year) in Canada, and €6.99 per month (or €69.99 per year) in the Netherlands. In Australia it will be priced at $8.99AUD per month (or $89.99 per year) and in New Zealand it’s $9.99NZD per month (or $99.99 per year), respectively.

There will also be a special Disney bundle in the US that costs $12.99 per month and gives you access to Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu.

The $6.99 price gets you four simultaneous streams, as well as 4K – that’s something Netflix can only offer on its Premium tier, which costs $15.99 a month. Disney Plus customers can create and manage up to seven profiles on a single account, too.

Will it have HDR to bolster its 4K offering too? Disney hasn’t yet said.

Disney also hasn’t announced any other tiers of subscriptions. At the moment, it seems it’s going all in on the basic package, which should give it a real advantage over Netflix.

What can you watch on Disney Plus?

Disney Plus: everything you need to know

Lots. At launch, it will offer more than 5000 episodes of Disney shows, likely culled from the long-running Disney Channel. It’s set to launch with 300 movies, with the promise of 400 titles by the end of the first year.

These will include new Disney originals like Toy Story 4, the live-action version of The Lion King and the highly anticipated sequel to Frozen. TV series based on Monsters Inc. and High School Musical have also been confirmed. In fact, Disney has just teased many more titles on Twitter, so that’s certainly worth your perusal.

It will also be the exclusive home to all Marvel and Star Wars films, which is quite a proposition, seeing as these are among the most popular and profitable films ever made. That means it’ll be the only place to see this December’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Captain Marvel and all future releases from both Lucasfilm and Marvel.

But Disney isn’t just relying on its back catalogue. It’s also investing heavily in original content. Content will vary from region to region, but three will be 10 new films and 25 original series.

According to Disney’s chief financial officer, Christine McCarthy, the firm is investing at least $1 billion into original content within the first year. Its first project? The Mandalorian, the first ever live-action Star Wars series. Directed by Elf director Jon Favreau, the eight-part series takes place five years after Return of the Jedi and follows a lone Mandalorian in the outer reaches of the galaxy far beyond the authority of the New Republic.

That’s not the only new Star Wars show on the horizon. The second live-action series set in the universe will follow the adventures of Rebel spy Cassian Andor during the formative years of the Rebellion and prior to the events of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. It will go into production this year.

And Ewan McGregor will reprise his role as Obi-Wan Kenobi for a new series based on the Jedi master.

Marvel Studios is also working on a new live-action series for Disney Plus. Loki will star Tom Hiddleston as the titular superhero, who is the adopted brother of Thor and often his enemy. Though given his sometime anti-hero status, we’re sure the series will give the character plenty of moral ambiguity.

Other Marvel highlights include spin-offs for The FalconThe Winter SoldierWandaVision and She-Hulk.

Disney owns 20th Century Fox (the home of The Simpsons), ABC, FX, ESPN and National Geographic, too. So expect to see plenty more besides animations and superhero franchises.

How can you watch Disney Plus?

At launch, Disney Plus will work across Apple iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Apple TV, Android phones, Android TVs, Google Chromecast and Chromecast built-in devices, Xbox One, all Android based Sony TVs, PlayStation4, Roku streaming players and Roku TVs. Just so long as you’re in the right country.

Disney has also announced a deal with Amazon to feature the Disney Plus app on Fire TV products. You’ll also be able to access the app on Samsung and LG smart TVs.

What will Disney Plus look like?

Disney Plus: everything you need to know

The short answer: quite similar to Netflix. At the launch event in April, Disney shared a glimpse of the Disney Plus interface, which you can see above. As you can see, it’s image-led, with one big banner at the top promoting the latest film or show. 

You can also filter by which brand’s content you want to see. So click Disney, and you’ll only see Disney shows and films. The same goes for Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic.

There also appears to be a ‘Downloads’ tab which appears to hint at the ability to download programmes, possibly for offline viewing through an accompanying app?

We’ll be sure to bring you more information on Disney Plus as and when it gets released, ahead of the November launch.