Disney has finally joined the streaming wars with their latest service: Disney Plus, an immense collection of original content as well as exclusive picks from the ever-growing Disney Vault. After a somewhat shaky launch with users unable to access the service due to servers overloading, the service has settled into a solid rhythm without so much as a technical glitch. It has currently been just over two weeks after the service debuted on November 12th with a massive launch lineup. Since then, Disney Plus has garnered millions of subscribers, shattering even Disney’s expectations for what the platform could gross. The entertainment industry is clearly shifting towards streaming with almost every major distributor having some form of share in the market. However, while Netflix seeks maturation and legacy admiration after twenty or so years of service with projects like Roma and The Irishman, sure to be a front-runner at this year’s Oscars ceremony, Disney Plus, the greatest threat to Netflix at the moment, seeks almost the complete opposite, a show-stopping launch that will turn the tide towards the Mouse House. So how is Disney Plus two weeks later? Simply marvelous.
Perhaps the element that is most overlooked by users and industry pundits alike is the user interface of a streaming service. Disney Plus has been smartly designed so that the amount of content is never overwhelming. After a streamlined selection of Disney Plus originals like The Mandalorian and The Lady and the Tramp and some recommended titles is where the fun truly begins as Disney Plus begins to open up, divided into specific franchises like Marvel and Star Wars. Such a decision makes the platform immediately intuitive which is a good thing on their part as Disney Plus is largely targeted towards families with younger children. However, what any streaming service lives or dies by is its available lineup of media, and Disney Plus mostly performs in that regard confidently if with some glaring omissions.
Sure, being able to recapture the nostalgia of older Disney releases right from a tablet or smartphone is a soaring comfort that never gets old. However, the service drops the ball in terms of the new releases with key theatrical hits like the 2019 live-action remakes of Aladdin and The Lion King strangely absent from the catalog. When these billion-dollar productions mind you, are excluded, what’s left is more of the same with two Marvel releases (Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame) leading the bunch. Both titles are already available on home video and other streaming platforms, so their presence here never catches the eye. In addition, while they may be listed, some content has the tagline that they will not be available for streaming until 2020 or 2021 until their contract with other streaming services expires. While I appreciate Disney’s openness about where that specific content is at in its journey to Disney Plus, it’s slightly scummy that they are even listed at all, especially when the boundaries of the lineup become apparent.
In summation, Disney Plus is certainly a streaming giant in the making, one that its competitors should be wary of. However, I don’t quite see it ever toppling the colossus that is Netflix simply because of its family-friendly restriction. As long as Disney refuses to bring in more adult-centric content from its newly acquired catalog of 20th Century Fox titles, Disney Plus will never match the stride of its leading competitor. However, such an achievement isn’t necessary for Disney Plus to flourish as its launch numbers have surely proven with a smart, intuitive user interface and an immense catalog of cherished Disney content.