- Romy Kraus
What is Disney+?
I mean, you had to know this was coming. The Disney empire knows no bounds. Just as it took over the box office (Quartz member exclusive), Disney now seeks to take over streaming with a robust—and cheaper—Netflix competitor that utilizes its own vast library of content. Disney owns so much stuff that, quite frankly, we’re surprised it took them this long to put it all under one streaming roof.
That roof got much bigger when Disney acquired 20th Century Fox, and all of its film and TV assets, last year. Like AT&T’s purchase of Time Warner (now WarnerMedia), Disney’s Fox buyout was executed specifically with a streaming service in mind.
What’s included in a subscription?
Star Wars, superheroes, and Pixar, oh my. And that’s just the half of it.
Star Wars: All past, present, and future films and TV series that take place in Lucasfilm’s Star Wars universe will be available on Disney+. That includes all the oldies like Star Wars: A New Hope, but also new stuff, like the upcoming series The Mandalorian, produced exclusively for the streaming service.
Marvel movies: Disney+ will be the streaming home for all future Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films. Meaning every new Marvel movie starting from this point forward will eventually end up streamable on Disney+. The caveat is that not all past Marvel movies will be available on the service—at least not immediately. As with some of Warner Bros.’ content, the streaming rights to some Marvel movies are still tied up with other services. We know that at launch, at least four Marvel movies will be part of Disney+: Captain Marvel, Iron Man, Iron Man 3, and Thor: The Dark World, with Avengers: Endgame following a few months after the service launches. According to CNet, Disney will add a number of other Marvel titles, including Black Panther, to the service over the course of its first year—but we’re not sure exactly when.
New Lucasfilm and Marvel exclusives: There will be lots of new Marvel content exclusive to Disney+ as well, like the Marvel TV series Loki, Hawkeye, WandaVision and the aforementioned Star Wars series The Mandalorian.
Pixar: Every Pixar movie except Toy Story 4 (which recently came out in theaters) will be available on Disney+ at launch. Toy Story 4 probably won’t be too far behind.
All 30 seasons of The Simpsons
All the classic animated Disney movies: Disney is ending its longstanding practice of keeping its time-honored classics in a vault, and will allow them all to appear on the Disney+ service. These include The Lion King, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Bambi, etc.
Other Disney TV shows, movies, and original content: In total, the service is expected to have about 500 movies and 7,500 episodes of television. CNet has a comprehensive list of every title that’s been announced.
What happens to Disney’s content on Netflix?
Disney has already started pulling many of its shows and movies off the rival streaming service as their licensing agreements run out. Most of it is expected to be gone from Netflix by the end of this year.
When does it launch?
How much does it cost?
A standalone Disney+ subscription will cost $7 per month, or $70 for a year. You’ll also be able to sign up for a $13 bundle that includes Disney+ and Disney-owned services Hulu and ESPN+. (Disney bought a controlling stake in Hulu when it finalized its Fox takeover.) Only the ad-supported version of Hulu will be available as part of that bundle. Still, that’s $5 cheaper than if you were to sign up for all three services separately.
How do I get it?
Existing Hulu subscribers will be able to keep that subscription, and then add on Disney+ for an extra fee. Everyone else will have to pay for either the $7-per-month basic Disney+ service or the $13 bundle. Disney also recently announced that Charter’s Spectrum TV customers will be able to sign up for Disney+ directly through their cable plans.
Why is it called Disney+?
Because it’s Disney, you see, except, um, plus. In all seriousness, the “plus” name is all the rage in streaming right now. We don’t hate it—at least it’s consistent.
How is it different from Hulu and ESPN+?
Hulu is a completely different streaming service that just now happens to be owned by Disney as well. The Mouse House currently has a 67% majority stake in the service, with Comcast as a 33% silent partner. Hulu will continue to have much of the same library as it used to, including its many originals, like The Handmaid’s Tale. So that’s not really changing. Disney plans to use Hulu as a “general entertainment” complement to Disney+’s more family-friendly studio offerings. (Read: All R-rated or potentially controversial stuff will stay on Hulu, while Disney+ remains pristine.)
ESPN+ is ESPN’s $5-per-month streaming service (Disney owns ESPN) that includes all kinds of sports programming outside of the main American sports leagues (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL). So it’s got stuff like boxing, tennis, lacrosse, UFC, golf, cricket, and some MLS coverage.