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To say the TV streaming space is exploding right now would be an understatement. A host of well-financed, big-name video-on-demand (VOD) services are going online over the next six months. Each of them plans to give Netflix a run for its money and take a slice of the massive VOD market.
Disney is a company that needs no introduction. It’s the biggest player in entertainment and is home to a sizeable share of the biggest brands in the world. In fact, Disney is even bigger than you probably realise. Did you know that Disney owns Scrubs? Or Family Guy? Or M*A*S*H? Or National Geographic?
As such, despite the fact Netflix has over a decade of experience finding its feet and building out its library, Disney+ will be able to compete from day one. But is it good enough to make you do away with your Netflix subscription altogether? Let’s compare Disney+ and Netflix.
Let’s start with a top-line comparison of what each service offers.
|Features||Disney+||Netflix Basic||Netflix Standard||Netflix Premium|
|Release date||19 December 19||24 March 15||24 March 15||24 March 15|
|Available Movies and TV shows||600+||4200+||4200+||4200+|
|Can watch offline?||Yes||No||Yes||Yes|
|Devices||PC, iOS, Android, Apple TV, Android TV, Amazon Fire, ChromeCast, PS4, XBO, Windows 10, Smart TVs (LG, Samsung||PC, Mac, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, PS4, Xbox One, Apple TV, Fetch TV, ChromeCast, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Vodafone TV, Telstra TV, Smart TVs (LG, Hisense, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung, Sony)||PC, Mac, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, PS4, Xbox One, Apple TV, Fetch TV, ChromeCast, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Vodafone TV, Telstra TV, Smart TVs (LG, Hisense, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung, Sony)||PC, Mac, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, PS4, Xbox One, Apple TV, Fetch TV, ChromeCast, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Vodafone TV, Telstra TV, Smart TVs (LG, Hisense, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung, Sony)|
|More info||More Info||More Info||More Info||More Info|
As you can see in the table above, Netflix has three separate price tiers, with 4K content restricted to the premium package. Disney+, on the other hand, has a single price tier, which includes 4K support as well as Dolby Atmos – although it’s worth noting that with so much legacy content, such high-definition visual and audio experiences will likely only be available on recent Disney content. Here is the list of the movies available in 4K at launch.
To get a like-for-like comparison, we would therefore need to compare Disney+ at $9.99/month to Netflix’s premium package at $17.99/month. Obviously, the difference is stark given the $95/year benefit to Disney+.
It’s true that you can access and watch Netflix for as little as $11.49/month, and for families who just want to watch content on their older TV, this will be fine. But most people do own an HD TV now and would want at the very least the $14.99/month mid-tier Netflix package.
In short, Disney+ has priced itself well. It’s offering the premium features at a price below Netflix’s most basic subscription package.
Netflix has been slowly tweaking its UI and standardising what fans of TV streaming expect from the service. But evolution has been slow. While finding content remains a nightmare in Netflix, Disney+ has the benefit of a more condensed content offering.
The Disney+ interface is more stripped back. It groups its content into five pillars: Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic (Fox is conspicuously absent!). It also has a Kids Mode to help further define what can be watched.
Outside of this, the usually horizontal EPG system is in place, and you can dive deeper into movies, TV or genres. As well as this, films that you have downloaded to watch while out and about are saved in their own little spot. It’s nothing revolutionarily better than Netflix, but Disney+ is certainly on par.
Disney+ is hitting the ground running with over 600 movies and TV shows available at launch. That’s more content than you’re likely to watch anytime soon.
The huge roster of existing content that you’ve likely already seen at some point in time is also being joined by new exclusive original content, but this new original Disney+ content is being pushed to 2020 for the most part.
The Mandalorian, a new live-action Star Wars series, is easily the biggest draw of the Disney+ launch, but it won’t be joined by too much else that you can get super excited about. The World According to Jeff Goldblum and High School Musical TV shows have niche audiences, while film fans have a live-action Lady and the Tramp reboot as well as Noelle to feast upon.
It’s also worth pointing out that Disney+ is focused on family-friendly fare. This is the Mouse House, after all, and while titles like Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Wars, Marvel’s Avengers and even The Simpsons can be enjoyed by multiple generations, adult-focused material is nowhere to be seen.
Netflix, on the other hand, is pumping out original content like there’s no tomorrow, which joins its thousands of licensed TV shows and movies. Much of that original content is mature or even adult. This ensures Netflix will continue to have the more diverse line-up of content.
However, with Disney+ the only streaming home for all its upcoming blockbusters, it’s a tough choice. For many, it could be a case of having both services. Do you really want to miss out on the new Star Wars?
Luckily, New Zealand is one of the launch countries for Disney+. The service launches 19 November alongside Australia. We’re a week after Canada and the USA, but months ahead of Europe and a year ahead of Latin America. Asia isn’t even on the cards until 2021.
Netflix is available on just about everything. Thankfully, Disney+ isn’t going too lite with its device availability. Other than Macs, it’s available on all major devices, browsers and video game consoles. It’s on select TVs (LG and Samsung) and is compatible with Chromecast, too.
In short, you’re guaranteed a way of being able to watch Disney+ in your home, although some wider TV support and AirPlay compatibility would be handy, too. It will also be interesting to see if Disney can manage the upkeep on so many different platforms – and the inevitable OS updates and bugs – this early in the Disney+ lifespan. In that respect, New Zealand may serve as a bit of a test country.
Both Disney+ and Netflix offer compelling TV streaming. For adult viewers looking for consistent, original and mature content who are not fazed by the blockbuster brands of Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars, Netflix continues to be the best option.
However, for families with kids, or anyone who can’t imagine their favourite blockbuster brand putting out new content that they can’t watch, Disney+ is a no-brainer. And for most of us, I fear, both streaming services will become a household requirement.
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