As we move into 2020, it seems that this is the year that streaming services have finally begun to explode. Many big media companies are now taking matters into their own hands, realizing that they’re better off running their own services than simply licensing their content to others such as Netflix.
In fact, if recent trends are any indication, we’re probably going to be seeing streaming services become a lot more about original content rather than simply offering back catalogues of shows produced in years past by traditional networks. Even Netflix, which began as a DVD-rental-by-mail company over 20 years ago (yes, it’s been around that long), is reaching the point where it’s spending more on creating its own original content than it is on licensing shows from others, to the tune of around $15 billion in 2019 alone. Meanwhile, there’s Apple TV+, a streaming service that’s been founded entirely on nothing other than big-budget original content.
Then there’s Disney. The entertainment juggernaut has been churning out family-friendly original content since before most of us were born — before some of our parents were born, even. Disney has not only made billions of dollars on its own classic animated and live-action feature films going back decades, but now owns legendary franchises such as Star Wars and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If there’s any one company that should be considered a dominant force in the entertainment industry, Disney is it.
So when the company announced that it was releasing its Disney+ streaming service, pretty much everybody stood up and took notice, and when news came along that it was going to offer access to hundreds of Disney films and feature shows, plus all of the Star Wars movies, virtually all of the Marvel titles, along with films from Pixar, documentaries from National Geographic and even all 30 seasons of The Simpsons, it easily became the most eagerly anticipated streaming service in years.
We’ve already offered up some excellent reasons to check out Disney+, but does the service justify the $6.99/month price tag that Disney has put on it? For us, the answer is an unqualified yes. Here’s why.
Content, Content, Content
We have a hard time imagining that there’s anybody out there who is even a passing fan of entertainment that won’t find something they like on Disney+. Being Disney, there are more family movies here than any other streaming service can boast, and we guarantee that you’ll find some great titles here that you’ve probably never heard of, since Disney has opened up the vaults to bring back remastered content from decades past.
However, even if you’re not looking for traditional Disney content, there’s also all of the Star Wars films, with the first two trilogies available for the first time in 4K UHD, plus almost every film from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Disney also owns 20th Century Fox now, which encompasses a lot of other movies and shows — most notably, The Simpsons.
Disney is also investing in a ton of original content across all of its genres and franchises, including the new Star Wars series The Mandalorian, which may be worth the subscription price by itself for Star Wars fans, plus a variety of other educational and family content.
The most important thing to keep in mind here is that you won’t find this content anywhere else. Disney owns all of these shows, and it’s not about to license its crown jewels to services that rival its own. A whole bunch of them have already disappeared from services like Netflix and Hulu, and the few that remain are just waiting for the agreements to expire before Disney can take them back. Similarly, Simpsons World, which used to be the only place to see the full roster of episodes of The Simpsons, took no time at all to be shut down once Disney+ went live.
So if you want to watch shows from Disney, Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel, or The Simpsons, Disney+ is going to be the only game in town among streaming services, and that’s not likely to change. Although of course, you can still buy DVDs or purchase these items on digital stores like iTunes, the cost of purchasing the complete collection of just The Simpsons on DVD would easily pay for almost 30 years of Disney+.
That brings us to the next point, and that’s what Disney is actually charging for all of this: $6.99/month.
This is the lowest price of just about any streaming service out there. Only Apple TV+ beats it at $4.99/month, and it barely has a dozen shows available, so it doesn’t even begin to compare. Other services like CBS All Access and Hulu come close, but only with their ad-supported versions — you’ll need to pay more if you don’t want to have to watch commercials in your shows. By comparison, Disney is charging $6.99/month without ads.
While prices fluctuate, here are the shows you can buy on DVD or Blu-ray on Amazon for the price of a few months of Disney+:
- The Simpsons: Season 1: $69.90, or 10 months of Disney+
- The Simpsons: Season 17: $94.50, or over a year of Disney+
- Star Wars: The Complete Saga: $150.95, or almost 2 years of Disney+
- Iron Man 4K Collection: $69.85, or 10 months of Disney+
- Avengers: Endgame: $24.99, or 3.5 months of Disney+
- Disney Classics Complete 55 Disk Movie Set: $436.53, or over 5 years of Disney+
Again, it’s also worth noting that Star Wars: The Complete Saga on Blu-ray is only in 1080p Full HD. If you want the 4K UHD experience, Disney+ will be your only choice, and that’s not likely to change anytime soon.
Even if your tastes lean more toward renting movies on-demand — and to be fair, most of these movies are still available for rental on services like Amazon Prime and iTunes — the cost of Disney+ is about the same as two digital rentals per month.
This also assumes that you can’t find a better deal. $6.99/month is the standard price for Disney+ by itself, but there have been numerous promotions offering a full year of the service at deep discounts, and some other companies like Verizon are even offering freebies to their customers. Plus, you can save more by bundling Disney+ with Hulu and ESPN+ if you want those services as well.
The Disney+ Platform
Disney has done a great job of making sure that Disney+ is available in as many places as possible, from Smart TVs and set-top boxes to mobile devices.
Apple device users can simply download the free Disney+ app from the App Store for their iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Apple TV and not only sign up right within the app, but even have the subscription billed through iTunes. Unlike certain competing services, Disney clearly has no problem giving Apple a cut of the revenue from in-app subscriptions if it makes life easier for its customers, and also hasn’t priced the service any higher for those who choose to subscribe that way.
While Disney hasn’t yet embraced Apple TV Channels, it is compatible with Apple’s “TV” app, so you’ll be able to search and browse for content from there, alongside content from other streaming services, and even take advantage of the “Up Next” queue to load up the shows and films you want to watch and keep track of your favourites all in one place.
It’s also available on Roku set-top boxes and Amazon Fire TV devices, and on many smart TV platforms, and once signed in your subscription, favourite content, and watching status will seamlessly sync across all of your devices.
Further, as you’d expect from Disney, the $6.99 is a family subscription. You can configure up to seven user profiles so that each family member has their own library, and even set some to be “kids” profiles to provide a user interface and selection of content more suitable for young viewers. Disney also lets you have up to 10 devices signed in and stream on up to four of them simultaneously, which should be more than enough for all but the largest and busiest families.
Is Disney+ Worth It?
Unless you’re on a really tight budget, there’s also no reason that you have to cancel any other streaming service to subscribe to Disney+ — this is not an “either-or” proposition that excludes services like Netflix or Apple TV+.
Granted, all of these streaming services do eventually add up, but if you’ve cut your cable subscription, or are considering doing so, it’s worth keeping in mind that the cost of several streaming services is still cheaper than even basic cable TV, and significantly less expensive than the premium channels that most cable providers offer, so you’re getting way more bang for the buck with Disney+ and other streaming providers here.