Disney+ is an American subscription video on-demand (SVOD) streaming service owned by the Walt Disney Direct-to-Consumer & International division of The Walt Disney Company. The service is set to launch in Canada, The Netherlands, and the United States on November 12, 2019, and in Australia and New Zealand on November 19, 2019.
Disney+ will be focused on film and television content from Walt Disney Studios and Walt Disney Television. Original films and television series based on new and existing properties are also planned, including content from Disney, 20th Century Fox, 20th Century Fox Animation, Marvel, National Geographic, Pixar, and Star Wars. The service will compete with other general-interest subscription services (such as Amazon Prime Video and Netflix) and will complement ESPN+ and Hulu as part of Disney's over-the-top strategy.
In August 2016, Disney acquired a minority stake in BAMTech (a spin-out of MLB Advanced Media's streaming technology business) for $1 billion, with an option to acquire a majority stake in the future. Following the purchase, ESPN announced plans for an "exploratory [over-the-top] project" based on its technology (ESPN+) to supplant its existing linear television services. On August 8, 2017, Disney invoked its option to acquire a controlling stake in BAMTech for $1.58 billion, increasing its stake to 75%. Alongside the acquisition, the company also announced plans for a second, Disney-branded direct-to-consumer service drawing from its entertainment content, which would launch after the company ends its existing distribution agreement with Netflix in 2019. Soon there after, Agnes Chu, story and franchise development executive at Walt Disney Imagineering, was the first appointed executive, senior vice president of content, for the unit.
In December 2017, Disney announced its intent to acquire key entertainment assets from 21st Century Fox. Intended to bolster Disney's content portfolio for its streaming products, the acquisition closed on March 20, 2019.
In January 2018, it was reported that former Apple and Samsung executive Kevin Swint had been appointed as the senior vice president and general manager reporting to BAMTech CEO Michael Paull, who leads development. In March 2018, Disney's top level segment division was reorganized with the formation of Disney Direct-to-Consumer and International, which then included BAMTech, which contains "all consumer-facing tech and products". In June 2018, longtime Disney studio marketing chief, Ricky Strauss, was named president of content and marketing, however reporting to chairman of Disney Direct-to-Consumer and International Kevin Mayer. In January 2019, Fox Television Group COO Joe Earley was named executive vice president of marketing and operations. In June 2019, Matt Brodlie was named as senior vice president of international content development. In August 2019, Luke Bradley-Jones was hired as senior vice president of direct to consumer and general manager of Disney+ for Europe and Africa.
On November 8, 2018, Disney CEO Bob Iger announced that the service would be named Disney+ and that the company was targeting a launch in late 2019. A September launch was reportedly planned, but on April 11, 2019, Disney announced that Disney+ would launch on November 12, 2019, in the US. Disney stated that it planned to roll the service out worldwide over the next two years, targeting Western Europe and Asia-Pacific countries by late 2019 and early 2020, and Eastern Europe and Latin America during 2020. The timing of international launches is subject to the acquisition or expiration of existing streaming rights deals for Disney content. On August 6, 2019, Iger announced that it will offer a streaming bundle of Disney+, ESPN+, and the ad-supported version of Hulu for $12.99 per month available at launch. At the D23 Expo in August 2019, Disney opened up subscriptions to Disney+ at a discount rate for three years.
On September 12, 2019, a trial version of Disney+ became available in the Netherlands with limited content available. This testing phase will last until the official launch on November 12, when trial users will be switched to a paid plan. Disney+ became available for pre-order in September in the United States with a 7-day free trial upon launch.
In October 2019, Disney released a three-and-a-half-hour trailer on YouTube to showcase their launch lineup. It was also reported that Disney would ban advertisements for competitor Netflix from most of its TV platforms, except ESPN.
The service will be built around content from Disney's main entertainment studios, including Lucasfilm, Marvel Studios, National Geographic, Pixar, and select films from 20th Century Fox, Fox Animation, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Hollywood Pictures, and Touchstone Pictures. The service will operate alongside Hulu, which Disney gained a controlling stake in following the 21st Century Fox purchase. Bob Iger stated that Disney+ would be focused specifically on family-oriented entertainment (and not carry any R or TV-MA-rated content), and that Hulu would remain oriented towards general entertainment. Hulu will also host Disney+ as an add-on service.
It is expected that Disney+ will have approximately 7,000 television episodes and 500 films, including content from Disney, Pixar, Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, 20th Century Fox, and National Geographic, as well as original television series and films from Disney Channel and Freeform, and select titles from 20th Century Fox Television and ABC Studios. New releases from 20th Century Fox will not immediately be available on either Disney+ or Hulu, as Fox has an output deal with HBO until 2022. Captain Marvel will be the first theatrically-released Disney film to stream exclusively on Disney+. Iger said that Disney+ will eventually host the entire Disney film library, including films currently in the "Disney Vault." The service will also hold exclusive streaming rights to The Simpsons, with seasons 1–30 being available on launch as well as Alaina Gleen (seasons 1-13) and Jose Maldonaldo (seasons 1-25) also being available on launch.
It was initially unclear whether the first six films of the Star Wars franchise as well as Star Wars T.I.E would be available at the service's launch, as TBS held streaming rights through 2024 as part of its cable rights to the franchise, but on April 11, 2019, it was announced that the films would be available at launch along with The Force Awakens and Rogue One.
The films from the Marvel Cinematic Universe will not be all available on launch, as the streaming rights are already licenced to other platforms such as Netflix, and Disney is negotiating to reacquire those rights. The films will then become available at individual points, rather than as a group. Negotiations for the Spider-Man films, Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far From Home may be harder: as those films were co-produced with Sony Pictures, who have the cinematic rights to the character, and, if Disney had the exclusive rights, Sony would lose the revenue from it. Disney, on the other hand, will probably want to have the entire MCU films in the catalog, as a big selling point.
Original scripted content
Original series based on Marvel properties and Star Wars are being produced, with the former including eight new Marvel Cinematic Universe spin-off series involving the characters of Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Hawkeye, Loki, Scarlet Witch and Vision, She-Hulk, Moon Knight, Ms. Marvel, and a What If animated series, and the latter including The Mandalorian, a television series set between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, a currently untitled spin-off series focused on Cassian Andor from Rogue One, a seventh season of the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and a yet-untitled series starring Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi, reprising his role from the prequel trilogy. The service's initial original content goal was planned to include four to five original films and five television shows with budgets from $25–100 million. In January 2019, it was reported that Disney will spend up to $500 million in original content for the service. The Mandalorian alone is expected to cost $100 million.
In January 2019, Disney+ ordered Diary of a Female President from CBS Television Studios, its first series from an outside production company. A television series remake of the film High Fidelity was initially announced for Disney+, but in April 2019, it was revealed that the project had been shifted to Hulu.
In August 2019, Iger announced that 20th Century Fox films such as Home Alone, Night at the Museum, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and Cheaper by the Dozen will be "'reimagined' for 'a new generation'" exclusively for Disney+ by Fox Family. Original episodic content is expected to be released weekly, opposed to all at once.
Original non-fiction content
Disney also plans original factual television content for the service, aiming to "find the ethos of Disney in everyday stories, inspiring hope and sparking the curiosity of audiences of all ages." Some of these series will have ties to Disney properties, including behind-the-scenes documentary miniseries focusing on Disney studios (such as one following the production of Frozen II), the Disney-themed competition cooking competition Be Our Chef, Cinema Relics (a documentary series showcasing iconic costume and props from Disney films), Marvel's Hero Project (a series that will showcase "inspiring kids [that] have dedicated their lives to selfless acts of bravery and kindness"), and a Leslie Iwerks-directed documentary series chronicling the history and work of Walt Disney Imagineering. National Geographic is also producing Magic of the Animal Kingdom (a docuseries following the animal caretakers of Disney's Animal Kingdom and Epcot's aquarium) and The World According to Jeff Goldblum.
Disney reached a two-year pact with the documentary studio Supper Club (Brian McGinn, David Gelb and Jason Sterman, producers of Netflix's Chef's Table) to produce content for the service, including the conservation-themed nature documentary series Earthkeepers, and a documentary series chronicling the cultural and societal impact of Marvel's characters. Other factual series planned include Encore! (a Kristen Bell-produced series that will reunite casts from high school musical productions to reprise their roles), (Re)Connect (a reality series produced by Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos' Milojo Productions), Rogue Trip (a travel series featuring Bob Woodruff and his son Mack), and the reality competition Shop Class.
Device support and service features
At launch, Disney+ will be available for streaming via web browsers on PCs, as well as apps on Apple iOS devices and Apple TV, Android mobile devices and Android TV, Chromecast, Roku devices, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. Content available on Disney+ will also be listed in the Apple TV app.
Disney has committed to accessibility in their app for users with hearing and vision disabilities. The app will offer support for closed captioning and descriptive audio (audio description) plus audio navigation assistance.
Disney+ will allow seven user profiles per account, with the ability to stream on four devices concurrently and unlimited downloads for offline viewing. Content will be able to be streamed in resolutions up to 4K Ultra HD in Dolby Vision and HDR10, with Dolby Atmos sound on supported devices. Legacy content will be available in English, Spanish, French, and Dutch, while Disney+ originals will feature additional language options.
Disney+ is rolling out worldwide via a staggered rollout plan, first with the United States, Canada and the Netherlands on November 12, 2019, then Australia and New Zealand on November 19, 2019, then the United Kingdom, Western Europe, and Latin America throughout 2020, with other regions such as Asia-Pacific and Eastern Europe gaining access to Disney+ by September 2021.
|Region||Release Date||Monthly Price at release||Yearly Price at release|
|United States||November 12, 2019||$6.99||$69.99|
|Canada||CAD 8.99||CAD 89.99|
|Australia||November 19, 2019||AUD 8.99||AUD 89.99|
|New Zealand||NZD 9.99||NZD 99.99|
|United Kingdom||By March 2020|
|Asia Pacific||By September 2021|
|Latin America||By August 2020|
|Eastern Europe||By September 2021|