The day that many Disney, Star Wars, and Marvel fans have been waiting for has arrived — Disney+, the new streaming service by the entertainment giant, officially launched this morning to such a response that many people are now having a hard time getting online to actually watch anything.
What’s on Disney+?
Disney already promised that the new service would provide access to a massive list of titles from the Disney vault, including some that have never even made it to DVD, and many that haven’t been seen in years, going back as far as some of the earliest Disney movies of the 1930s and 1940s.
As one of the largest media conglomerates in the world, Disney is already able to launch with a back catalog that rivals all of the other major streaming services out there. In addition to its own very popular content, The Walt Disney Company also owns Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic.
However, Disney has also offered up a few last-minute surprises in terms of the content that’s available.
For one thing, according to The Verge it’s managed to make a series of eleventh-hour deals to get a lot of its Marvel Cinematic Universe content back onto its own service — something that was previously in doubt due to the exclusive licensing agreements it had signed with other streaming services like Netflix.
Originally, only a few Marvel titles were expected to arrive at launch, including Iron Man, Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man, and Captain Marvel.
Now, however, it looks like we’ll also be getting Avengers: Endgame right at launch — a month earlier than originally expected, plus a whole set of additional titles including Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America: Civil War, Doctor Strange, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
A few other Marvel titles like Black Panther remain tied up by Disney’s agreement with Netflix until the end of this year, but should come to the service in early 2020. However, Disney has promised that eventually all of the movies that it owns the rights to will make it to Disney+, but it may just have to play the waiting game for these other deals to expire.
Unfortunately, however, there are still a few Marvel titles that may not make it onto the service at all. For example, the live-action Spider-Man movies — Spider-Man Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far From Home — were co-produced with Sony Pictures, which means that Sony, not Disney, actually holds the rights to them. Similarly, The Incredible Hulk likely won’t come to Disney+ as it’s still owned by Paramount.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi won’t be there at launch for similar reasons — Netflix has the rights to it for now. However, Disney has managed to wrangle a deal with Starz, to which it had previously licensed the rights to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, to get that movie back right away in exchange for offering a one-time promotional ad for Starz during the sign-up process.
What’s more significant about Star Wars, however, is that with the launch of Disney+, the original and prequel trilogies will be available in full 4K Dolby Vision HDR and Atmos for the first time ever. While the more modern movies like The Force Awakens and Rogue One are available on 4K Blu-ray, the original trilogy and prequel movies have never made it beyond HD.
Sadly, however, Greedo still shoots first. The Verge has confirmed that these are the 1997 “special edition” versions that have been upgraded and remastered for 4K UHD, so purist fans of the original movies will still have to rely on the earlier standard-definition versions.
How to Watch Disney+
Disney+ is launching in the United States, Canada, and the Netherlands, and is priced at $6.99/month or $69.99/year in the U.S. There are also bundle deals available
The new service is available on a wide variety of smart TVs and set-top boxes, but for Apple users, you can find it simply by downloading the free Disney+ app on the App Store, where it’s available for the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Apple TV.
Once downloaded, you can sign up for a Disney+ account and subscribe to the service directly within the app, using Apple’s in-app purchase system. Sadly, however, Apple TV Channels is not (yet) supported, which means that your subscription is only good for a Apple ID — you won’t be able to take advantage of Family Sharing like you can with Apple TV+ and other “channels” services.
That said, other family members will be able to share your subscription — Disney lets you to stream to up to four devices simultaneously and configure up to seven user profiles — however everybody will need to be logged into the same account, and there appears to be no way to lock users down to a single profile right now, which means that even if you set up a profile for your kids, you can’t keep them from switching over to other profiles, or even accessing the primary one where your main settings and billing information are managed.
On the upside, however, The Disney+ app is compatible with Apple’s TV app, which means that you’ll be able to find content on the Disney+ service using Siri searches or simply browsing through the TV app, and whatever you’re watching will automatically appear in the Up Next section of the TV app, synced across all of your tvOS and iOS devices.
Disney+ is also expected to launch in Puerto Rico, Australia, and New Zealand next week on Nov. 19, although it won’t be making it to any other countries until next March, when it’s expected to arrive in the U.K., France, Germany, Italy, and Spain.
You May Have to Wait in Line
It seems that the launch of Disney+ has been so popular that the service has been overwhelmed by users signing up and trying it out. While some users are having no problems, there have been a number of reports on Twitter and elsewhere of people finding that they’re unable to connect to Disney+ once they’ve signed up. There are many folks reporting the problem on Twitter, and we’ve encountered this ourselves.
That said, it’s a safe bet this is simply an initial launch surge that’s common to many highly anticipated online services like games, and should calm down as demand settles down and Disney takes steps to deal with the extra load.