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Disney+ review: Is it any good?

It was the most anticipated launch in the streaming TV space in years, but is Disney+ any good? Here's our review.

When it launched in Canada and the United States, Disney+ found 10 million subscribers in the first 24 hours and no shortage of server issues. A week later, on November 19, 2019, the anticipated streaming TV service had landed in other parts of the world. The issues were solved and the content library grew, but how does it compare to already existing streaming TV giants like Netflix?

As a company, Disney needs no introduction. It’s huge – like Dumbo’s ears, Donald’s temper, Han Solo’s ego, Hulk’s biceps and Homer’s love of doughnuts.

Deal

Save 16% on Disney+ with an annual subscription

Opt for an annual subscription and you can save $23 a year on Disney+ compared to the monthly plan.

You know the brands. Star Wars, Pixar, Marvel, Mickey Mouse, The Simpsons, National Geographic, Toy Story… we could go on. And on. And on. Before Disney+, they’ve been spread out across the gamut of TV streaming services. You could even find them on services like Netflix. Then they would rotate providers and then rotate back.

Now, these brands and countless others have a place to call home.

The pros and cons of Disney+

Where does Disney+ stand out?

  • The price is right at $11.99 per month or $119.99 per year
  • A single price tier for all features
  • 4K, Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision supported
  • A healthy library of TV shows and movies
  • Family-focused content is suitable for everyone
  • Separate channel with content aimed at adults
  • It actively makes the content libraries of competing services worse
  • Plenty of great-looking exclusives into 2022
  • Excellent device support

Where does Disney+ fall down?

  • Light on weekly premieres
  • You have seen the vast majority of the library before
  • Further dilution of streaming TV service adds another subscription to your list

Disney+ meets but does not evolve expectations

Turning on Disney+ for the first time won’t blow your mind. Whereas the likes of Apple TV+ had that unique, Apple feel, Disney+ is a by-the-numbers Netflix clone. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but some innovation would have been nice.

Some featured content boxes interrupt line after line of horizontal EPGs (electronic programming guides) broken out into genres and “trending search” filters. You can jump straight into Kids mode or select from the major Disney pillars: Disney, Star Wars, Marvel, National Geographic, Pixar and Star. You can download anything you want for offline use, too.

In fact, Disney ticks almost all the expected boxes when it comes to features. As well as offline viewing, there’s 4K, Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision support for selected films and TV. Naturally, this is mostly true of recent productions, but there were some older-school surprises in the 4K Disney+ list, including Star Wars.

You get 4 simultaneous streams and family sharing for up to 7 accounts. The only noticeable failing at launch was the lack of a “continue watching” service. Quite the oversight, but it was soon fixed. Disney+ also allows you to create a watchlist now and introduced a GroupWatch feature to make it easier to watch content with loved ones.

Disney+ is the right price

That Disney+ offers everything for $11.99 per month helps it really stand out against Netflix’s 4K premium plan, which is $20.99 per month. It also easily outcompetes Apple TV+ in content, despite the latter being $5.99 per month.

If you’re confident you will love the service, you can get Disney+ for $119.99 per year, effectively bringing the cost down to $7.49 per month.

Props must also be given to the range of compatible devices. You can watch Disney+ using a PC/Mac, iOS, Android, Amazon Fire TV and tablets, Android TV devices, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Vizio SmartCast TV, Samsung and LG TVs as well as game consoles (PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S). Well done.

Disney+ content review

For sheer size and international significance, Disney+ feels like the first genuine competitor to Netflix in the streaming TV space. But that hasn’t always been the case. Upon launch, Disney was a strictly family-focused affair heavily leaning on legacy experiences. A paradise for children, with just enough cross-demographic content to keep parents and fanboys (or girls) tethered.

Moreover, Disney+ only had the one standout launch exclusive, but it was a good one: the rather excellent live-action Star Wars series The Mandalorian. It’s essential viewing for any Star Wars fans and a fun entry point for those who managed to live in a Wookie-free bubble for the past forty years.

However, that all changed with the launch of the Star channel in February 2021. It made Disney+ not just a family-focused streaming solution – it’s now got hundreds of movies and TV shows targeted for an adult audience. This includes Star Originals found exclusively through Disney+ like Dopesick and Only Murders in the Building. Plus, you can (re)watch fan favourite series like Lost, Scrubs, How I Met Your Mother and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Additionally, Disney+ started adding more content every month, from new big exclusive movies like Soul, Luca, Hamilton, The One and Only Ivan to TV and documentary content. Marvel fans got 5 fresh TV series over the course of 2021 alone. The Book of Boba Fett arrived in late 2021 and kid-friendly shows like Muppets Now kept young viewers glued to the screen.

Finally, recent and future movies – both cinematic and straight-to-TV – will be Disney+ streaming exclusives. Given the usual high standard we see from Disney’s big pillar content, it means that the Disney+ content library will continue to define and distance itself from the competition into the future.

The verdict on Disney+

Perhaps the biggest question hanging over Disney+ is how Canada’s network holds up to the strain. Only you know the answer to that question. How’s your connection? If you find yourself struggling in peak periods to get Netflix or even just YouTube working as desired, Disney+ will join that list of lemons. You’re looking at basically the same data and bandwidth demand.

If you pass this potential issue, Disney+ is a competitively priced, perfectly functional portal into the library of Disney content. Its library of classics dates back to the 1930s and is evolving with the addition of new exclusives. There’s still not enough brand new exclusive content appearing on Disney+, at least not compared with Netflix or Amazon Prime. But it’s getting better. And the legacy content is so good it’s not hard to watch it again even if it’s for the 10th time.

You’ll get your value for money with Disney+, but it all comes down to your entertainment needs. All in all, Disney+ is a solid option for the entire family.

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