Today, Disney launched whats undoubtedly going to be one of the worlds largest digital video streaming services: Disney+.
Over the years, Disney has amassed quite the back catalogue of content, from Disney animated and feature favourites to Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar and National Geographic, and it’s all ready and waiting to be watched. Joining titles previously locked inside Disney’s vault are a slew of Disney+ originals including Star Wars franchise ‘The Mandalorian’ which is sure to be on many weekly watch-lists as the streaming wars begin to take shape.
Apple users can subscribe to the new service by downloading the Disney+ app on iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Apple TV. You can sign up and subscribe directly inside the app for $6.99/month or $69.99/year following a 7 day free trial. Disney are also offering an option for customers in the United States to bundle Disney+ with ESPN+ and the ad supported version of Hulu for $12.99/month through disneyplus.com.
It should be noted that signing up directly inside the app will allow you to easily manage your subscription through Apple under account settings, whereas if you created an account on Disney’s website you will be locked to traditional billing, making things a little less convenient.
The overall Disney+ app experience breathes familiarity for Apple TV users whilst meeting and sometimes exceeding expectations set by its competitors. Disney+ on Apple TV offers an easy way to log in via iOS or iPad devices already setup on the same Wi-Fi network. In addition to the standard login option, a pop-up will ask if you would like to login on the requested device, negating the need for authentication codes or account credentials.
Like the majority of modern day video streaming apps, the Disney+ app integrates with Apple’s TV app allowing you to track your watch history and add content to your Up Next queue; with shows adding new episodes as they release to the Watch Now tab. This universal experience allows purchased video and Apple Channel content to be displayed together, offering a one stop shop for the majority of your viewing needs.
Despite Disney and Apple’s long collaborative history, Disney+ isn’t available as an Apple TV Channel, meaning that whilst it’s possible to sign-up to the service and manage your subscription through Apple, you will need to have the Disney+ app installed on your devices in order to view your subscription content. When you select a show in your Up Next queue you will be bumped out to the Disney+ app, offering a second-class experience to the likes of HBO and ShowTime. Despite these shortcomings, subscribers to Disney+ can create up to 7 user profiles per account and enable up to 4 simultaneous streams, with offline downloads available on iOS and iPad devices; including a handy device storage indicator within the apps settings.
After spending a morning trawling through the humongous catalogue of content and a number of hours watching the services early original offerings, it’s clear that Disney are continuing to aim high when it comes to family-friendly entertainment, both in terms of its production and its high-quality streaming distribution. Whilst I already own the majority of Disney content available through iTunes, there’s still plenty here to justify a subscription, with much much more to come.
With Disney 4K, Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos finally available on Apple TV outside the USA, the hope is that Disney will now treat previous iTunes purchases to the same stellar presentation as part of Apple’s 4K upgrade program. Here’s hoping for an early Christmas present.