Disney has finally revealed that its Disney+ streaming service will launch on November 12, with subscriptions starting at $6.99 per month. The powerhouse entertainment conglomerate showcased its forthcoming Netflix competitor during a presentation for investors on Thursday, featuring exclusive and original content, an extensive back catalog, and a not-unfamiliar interface.
The presentation was a full three hours long — and exhaustingly chock-full of information to sift through. Here’s a recap of the biggest news from Disney’s Disney+ reveal:
Disney+ goes live this fall, with low subscription fees
When Disney+ kicks off on November 12, it will cost $6.99 per month — lower than the monthly subscription costs for services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
Amazon Prime Video and Netflix each cost $8.99 a month for their most basic plans; Netflix’s premium pricing tier costs $15.99 for 4K resolution and the ability to watch on four devices simultaneously. (Meanwhile, Disney now owns a majority stake in Hulu, which costs $5.99 monthly for its basic, ad-supported version. The ad-free tier costs $11.99 a month.)
Neither Amazon Prime Video nor Netflix currently offers an annual subscription plan —unless you count Amazon’s all-inclusive Prime membership for $119 a year — but Disney+ will. Annual subscribers will be able to sign up for $69.99 per year, around a $12 discount over paying monthly.
The Simpsons will make Disney+ their new, exclusive streaming home
After all the fanfare that led to the creation of Simpsons World, an FXX streaming app that houses every episode of the nearly 30-year-old cartoon, Disney+ is bringing The Simpsons into its purview, just like that. Disney+ will become the only place to stream all 30 seasons of The Simpsons once the service launches later this year — a move indebted to Disney’s merger with Simpsons owner 21st Century Fox just weeks ago.
5,000 (!) episodes of Disney shows will be available at launch
Name your favorite Disney Channel show — maybe Lizzie McGuire, Kim Possible, or That’s So Raven — and you can be pretty darn confident that it will be streaming on Disney+. The company promises that 5,000 episodes of TV will be available at launch, which easily covers hundreds of shows.
The Disney+ inventory will include plenty of older shows, as well as several new ones. The new offerings include The Mandalorian, a live-action Star Wars series set between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, helmed by Jon Favreau; a National Geographic-produced travel series starring Jeff Goldblum; and my personal favorite, High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, based on the classic Disney Channel Original Movie.
And that’s just the beginning. Within a year of the Disney+ launch, the company plans to add 500 movies and another 2,500 TV episodes to its archives.
Marvel’s Disney+ shows will matter to the Marvel Cinematic Universe
Prior to its Disney+ announcement, Disney had already confirmed that several series starring characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe will debut on the new streaming service. Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige stopped by Thursday’s presentation to tell investors that not only is Marvel taking the streaming service seriously, but that its exclusive series will have “ramifications on the storyline” unfolding in the studio’s feature films.
These series include WandaVision, which will star Scarlet Witch (a.k.a. Wanda) and Vision; Falcon and Winter Soldier, a series about the relationship between Captain America’s titular pals; and Loki, starring Tom Hiddleston as the fan-favorite Asgardian. (Not mentioned: Hawkeye’s reported Disney+ series.)
There will also be a fun-sounding animated series, Marvel Studios’ first. It’s called What If?, and portrays hypothetical situations based on comic book characters. Feige said that the actors from the MCU’s feature films will be on hand to voice their respective heroes on the small screen.
The Disney+ interface ... looks a lot like Netflix’s
It’s not like there are that many different ways to design a streaming service’s content menu, but look at what Disney+ is serving up:
For my money, if you put aside those handy categories up top, the Disney+ interface is highly reminiscent of Netflix’s — the “Recommended for You” column right above the list of titles you can “Continue Watching” feels especially familiar. Plus, there are personalized profiles with unique avatars, à la Netflix. At least Disney+ offers neat Disney character avatars, though.
With so many titles at such a low price point, Disney+ will undoubtedly make a splash when it launches
Disney is pretty clearly trying to not just disrupt the streaming video industry — it wants to jump in and take over from the get-go. Chief financial officer Christine McCarthy said during the presentation that Disney is committed to investing at least $1 billion into original content for Disney+ within the platform’s first year, and aims to have upward of 90 million subscribers by the end of fiscal year 2020. And this is all before the company begins an international rollout for Disney+, sure to be an even bigger traffic driver.
With the surplus of content and competitive pricing, Disney+ looks like a formidable foe to the existing titans of streaming. It’s yet another service to subscribe to, but hey — this one has The Simpsons and Star Wars and every Pixar movie and every Marvel movie and The Lion King on it. How could anyone else possibly compete?
And that’s exactly the point.