The Disney+ streaming service app homescreen
Photo: The Walt Disney Company

Disney has been talking about its new Disney+ streaming service for months, but only now do we finally have pricing, a launch date, and all the details on content. One significant question for most of us is where it will fit in among an ever-expanding number of choices.

The big news, of course, is the price. At an investors’ conference this week, Disney executives revealed that the Disney+ subscription will launch Nov. 12, at a price of $7 per month or $70 per year.

That’s considerably less than Netflix’s most popular plan, which recently jumped to $13 per month. And the price difference raises the question of whether the Disney+ service will give you enough reason to jump ship, or simply add it to your ever-growing list of streaming options.

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“At $7 a month, Disney+ is pretty inexpensive, especially when you consider the quality of what they’re offering,” says Dan Rayburn, principal analyst at media research firm Frost & Sullivan. “But nobody really knows yet; ultimately it comes down to the type of content you want, and what kind of viewership you have in your family,” he adds. “It’s likely that a lot of people will want both.”

In a note to clients after Disney’s presentation, Matthew Thornton, an analyst at equity research firm SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, called the impact of Disney+ on Netflix “manageable,” saying that the announcement held “no big surprises in terms of pricing, timing, availability, and content.”

He added that it could actually make Netflix look appealing in comparison because the more established service offers a much broader range of content.

In fact, a survey SunTrust conducted just prior to Disney’s announcement showed that only 8 percent of current Netflix subscribers said they expected to leave Netflix for the new Disney service, while nearly 24 percent said they plan to subscribe to both services.

Disney+ Details

At the event, Disney highlighted a fairly impressive content lineup. That’s not surprising, given that Disney now owns all the “Star Wars” movies, thanks to its acquisition of LucasFilms, plus Marvel Studios and animation studio Pixar.

The company also just finalized its purchase of 20th Century Fox—home to movie franchises such as “Avatar,” “Deadpool,” and “X-Men,” and TV shows such as “The Simpsons” and “Empire”—as well as National Geographic. And, of course, Disney has a huge library of its own animated and live-action films and TV series.

At the conference, Disney execs cited a number of titles that would stream exclusively on Disney’s new service—some at launch, others later. They include “Captain Marvel,” “Avengers: Endgame,” “Star Wars: Episode IX,” “Frozen 2,” and “Toy Story 4.”

All told, Disney+ will offer 10 original films and 25 original series, including three “Avengers” spinoffs, in its first year of operation. At launch that will include almost all the “Star Wars” movies, the complete catalog of Pixar titles, and all 30 seasons of “The Simpsons.”

Fox will be contributing family-focused movies and TV shows such as the “The Sound of Music” and “Malcolm in the Middle.”

One of the most highly touted original shows at the event was “The Mandalorian,” a Jon Favreau-directed series set in the “Star Wars” universe that cost an estimated $10 million for each of its 10 episodes.

Disney will be supporting 4K streaming with HDR whenever available.

During the event, we also got a first look at the Disney+ app, which featured individual tiles for each of the prominent Disney brands.

Right now Disney has deals to put the service on Roku streaming devices and the Sony PlayStation 4 game console but expects to add other streaming players and game systems, as well as smart TVs, by the time the service launches.

One question that remains unanswered is how many simultaneous users the new service will support at one time.

So How Do the Services Stack Up?

Now that we know pricing, Disney+ clearly has the edge; at $7 per month, it’s $2 cheaper than Netflix’s least expensive plan, and just more than half the cost of its most popular plan—$13—following the company’s latest price hike in January.

Given the brands we’ve mentioned, Disney+ will have a strong appeal to families, especially those with younger kids, though the superhero franchises will attract an older crowd. But in general Disney’s focus is on family-friendly fare.

Netflix, however, has a much broader assortment of content, ranging all the way from kids’ programming to movies and shows with more mature themes and graphic content that would be out of place on a Disney service. That is likely to give Netflix a broader appeal.

One concern for Netflix subscribers is that with more companies looking to offer their own standalone streaming services, there will be fewer opportunities to license top-shelf movies and TV shows. That could mean some of your favorite shows and movies could disappear, or newer ones never appear on the service.

For example, in addition to Disney+, AT&T’s WarnerMedia, which owns “Game of Thrones” network HBO and film and TV studio Warner Bros., is also planning its own service for late this year.

Disney has already said that it wouldn’t renew current licensing deals with Netflix. Its deal was signed in 2012, which gave it streaming rights to Disney titles released from 2016 to 2018 at least through the end of this year. But any new Disney movies from 2019 and beyond will be exclusively streamed on Disney+.

Disney will also be getting much of the Marvel universe content back, though Netflix will be keeping the original Marvel series it has developed, such as “Jessica Jones” and “The Defenders.”

Despite the portfolio of Disney brands, Netflix is also likely to have an edge when it comes to new original content, because it releases about a dozen new shows, movies, and documentaries each week.

Disney, on the other hand, says it plans to air more than 25 new original series and over 10 original movies and specials in the first year of operation. That’s considerably less than Netflix, even when you add in the movies that will hit the service after their theatrical release.

You also have to consider that Netflix has a proven track record of success with many its original shows, while the appeal of the original Disney+ shows and movies is still to be determined.

Finally, there’s the budget allotted to producing or licensing content. While the $1 billion-plus budget that Disney has earmarked for Disney+ in the next year, it’s dwarfed by Netflix’s planned $14 billion content spend.

But there is one interesting element of Disney+ to consider: the possibility of it being bundled into a package with other Disney properties, such as Hulu and ESPN+. That combination could be appealing if you want both a cable-style service and a TV-and-movie service all in one package. 

Disney hinted at that strategy but didn’t disclose how much a bundle like that might cost.