Disney + Lives Up to the Hype
My biggest regret of this month was not taking my vacation days this week. I not only had to work every day, but kept running into extra obligations that have kept me from doing the only thing I truly wanted to: binge watching Disney + so that I could tell you how awesome it is.
I have been anxiously awaiting this launch since it was announced earlier this year. I’m a huge Disney fan. And even though I already own a pretty impressive DVD collection, it’s nothing compared to the vast wealth of the Disney catalog. Disney enters the streaming wars with a huge competitive advantage. They’ve been making movies for 80 years. They own the rights to arguably the most popular franchises now in the Star Wars and Marvel series. And they already have multiple cable channels. So, they win on content. But how does the streaming service stack up?
The site got off to a rough start, because apparently I’m not the only Disney freak that was waiting to download it. The new service logged a staggering 10 million subscribers on its first day! Analysts had predicted that it would take them a year to establish that many subscribers. Of course, that number might be padded by Verizon offering the first year for free. On the other hand, your old TV probably doesn’t have the app available yet, so you have to have another device to watch it on a big screen. I have a Roku stick and I’ve been watching for weeks for the app to be available, but it didn’t appear until Tuesday morning. In hindsight, it might have been better to allow people to download it in advance and have it ready to run at launch. The site crashed Tuesday morning due to all the new downloads. There were reports of connectivity issues the first day. My brother was so frustrated with the crashing that he was going to cancel it. But most people report that it’s working smoothly now.
The home screen was clearly modeled off of Netflix. It’s easy to navigate. You can choose from Disney, Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel or National Geographic. You can also view all movies or all series and sort them into alphabetical order. Well, ALMOST alphabetical order. I was startled at first because they have the live action 101 Dalmatians movies with Glen Close and all the straight to video animated sequels, but I didn’t see the original animated movie! That’s because they have that one listed under “One Hundred and one” instead of the numeric value. And there’s a whole section that are sorted under “Disney’s” instead of their actual title. But for the most part, they’re in order. I like being able to scroll through a catalog in alphabetical order. There’s always a search function, but most of the time I’m not searching for any movie in particular, just seeing what’s available.
Personally, I have a bad habit of fast forwarding through movies. Credits, boring parts, characters I don’t like. My biggest complaint with “Prime” is that it doesn’t allow you to actually SEE what you’re forwarding past so that you know when to stop (like my trusty DVR does.) Disney+ has a super fast (maybe too fast) forward option that allows you to see where to stop. That might not be important to anyone else, but it matters to me.
The one big option missing here is the “continue watching” function. This is especially useful if you’re binge watching a series. But it also helps if you stop in the middle of the movie. I started watching something I hadn’t put in my “favorites” list and had to do a search for it to continue watching the next time I logged in. Hopefully they’ll iron out these little problems with the site.
I haven’t watched “The Mandalorian” yet, but the reviews have all been positive. But many viewers have expressed frustration that Disney has chosen to drop one episode a week. Netflix has conditioned us to binge watching an entire new series in one sitting. Will Disney viewers be satisfied to watch all the new series one episode at a time? Or will they demand a change?
On the whole, Disney + delivers what it promised: great Disney content at a low price. We’ll see how many subscribers continue to sign up and whether they cancel other services as a result. The streaming wars are just getting started, but I’m betting on Disney to come out on top.