With the streaming market becoming a bit of a battleground, individual studios are trying to create what they think will be the killer app to take down Netflix. And one of the most obvious, and potentially most successful, candidates for that mantle is Disney’s upcoming streaming service, Disney+.
Is there room for an upstart streaming service to really take the fight to the giant that is known as Netflix? Sure, Disney has content, and Disney+ is pretty ambitious in its original programming; yet, the playing field might not be as level as some might think. Can Mickey’s gloves pull enough business away from Netflix to make it bend the knee?
It all comes down to two very important factors, both of which will determine the state of play between these two giants. While the business model factor is very important to any thriving streaming outlet, content is definitely royalty when it comes to a streaming library’s chances.
Let’s start by running down the basics of Disney+’s operations:
What Is Disney+ And When Is It Going To Be Released?
Disney+ is the proprietary streaming service that will be owned and operated by The Walt Disney Company. What looks to be the home of all things Disney related, the service will be the home to movies and TV shows that are exclusive to the Disney catalog. Everything from Disney Channel original movies to Marvel Studios films like Avengers: Endgame will be available on the platform, for all to see.
At $6.99 a month/$69.99 a year, the only devices Disney+ is confirmed to be running on at this time are the Roku dongle and the Playstation 4 gaming console. But it’s to be expected that by time the November 12th debut of Disney+ rolls around, more devices will be added to that throng. It can also be assumed that mobile and desktop viewing will also be ground floor options or your Disney+ viewing as well.
Can Netflix Stack Up to Disney Plus?
Now with Disney+ laid out, let’s take a look at what Netflix has going for it right now. A legacy streaming provider, that started out as a disc rental service, Netflix is a pioneer in original streaming content. Easily accessible on anything from your phone to your smart TV, it’s pretty easy to get yourself onto the Netflix superhighway of entertainment. So as far as ease of access goes, Netflix wins at this moment.
As far as cost goes, Netflix is currently at $8.99 a month for its Basic plan, which allows you access on one screen at a time in Standard Definition. The one big advantage Netflix does have at this moment is content, as it has a wide variety of original series and films being released on a constant basis. Not to mention, it’s home to landmark favorites in TV, such as Friends, as well as a revolving film library that brings on titles like The Dark Knight and Cloverfield on a somewhat regular basis.
Disney+ vs. Netflix
Now here’s where it gets to be fun! Comparing Disney+ and Netflix, there is definitely room to talk out strengths and weaknesses. Let’s start with the pricing models, because this is where the most concrete comparisons can be made.
Disney+ is going to cream Netflix in this department, as it’s to be assumed that Disney will have at least HD -- and possibly 4K UHD -- streaming available as part of its initial plan. Without a tiered system, and a simple choice of $6.99 a month or $69.99 a year, Disney+ is going to make it easy for consumers to pick their poison. With Netflix only offering $8.99 a month as its lowest priced option, and only on one screen, with only Standard Definition quality video, it’s going to take a miracle to improve its fortunes in the pricing realm.
That’s where that other key factor, content, comes into play. Disney+ is basically going to be everything and anything Disney has under its umbrella. You'll still be able to see Disney-owned products, for example Nat Geo and Fox products, elsewhere, but there will be some stuff that's exclusive to Disney+. Such as The World According to Jeff Goldblum, which is set to debut once Disney+ opens its doors.
For the time being, Netflix does have Friends and The Office, two shows that have shaped modern pop culture in such a way that the memes alone keep them on people’s minds. Shows like may continue disappearing to their own home company’s proprietary streaming providers, like The Office will do in 2021. At that point, Netflix may become a destination for originals only. It's already trending in that direction.
Ultimately, victory for either service comes down to this dichotomy: if you want everything Disney under the sun, and/or you’re a family that doesn’t mind losing out on Netflix’s original programming, Disney+ is the place to be. If you’re ok with losing the Disney programming, and/or are beholden to the Netflix original lineup more than the remnants of their grab bag days of snapping up golden sitcoms, then you know where you need to stay.
Possible Factors To Watch For In The Future
While this battle's outcome may seem clear, depending on which side you’re rooting for, there are some key ways this war could be won in later rounds. Namely, the whole issue with price is a bit of a concern as Disney+ is just starting out.
As we’ve seen with the Netflix business model, subscription hikes are a strategy that get rolled out every now and again to keep the wheels turning. Though with Disney+ being backed by a major studio conglomerate, this could be something that isn’t as much of a problem over at the Mouse House, which operates a ton of different verticals and businesses.
Not to mention, Disney+ has the potential to steal even more of the streaming market share away, when you consider how a future bundle with ESPN and Hulu seems all the more likely with each passing day. A rate hike wouldn’t look like a hinderance if those two entities are coming to the party.
Last, but not least, content will be important, as always. Disney+ is going to aim to be the one-stop shop for all things in the Disney constellation, there’s one slight wrinkle that’s going to complicate things in the future. More specifically, in 2026; which is reportedly when all Disney movies released between 2016 and 2018 will vanish from Disney+ and reappear back on Netflix.
So, for those who have Disney+ by that point, they might feel a bit cheated when trying to do a recap run for Avengers 6: The Desolation of Osborn, or the Star Wars spinoff that will be in theaters that particular year. While those who have Netflix will probably want more, and be disappointed that only that specific chunk of films are available to their Disney+ adverse eyes. It's an interesting wrinkle that not even the Avengers in Endgame may have had an answer to.
Which brings it all back around to the question, who will win the streaming wars: Disney+ or Netflix? Well, from where the matter stands at this point, it’s fair to say that Disney+’s price point and legacy catalog put it in a power playing position; with the new exclusives in films and series hammering that point home even harder.
Netflix’s ever-changing catalog, as well as its own issues with the company’s original programming lineup, make it an extremely volatile prospect for the future. Whereas Disney has always been a landmark brand that stands for an easily identifiable style of content; so its identity will automatically attract the droves of people that make the name famous.
At this point, it seems likely that Disney+ is going to win the streaming war in the short term run of events, unless people are just tired of signing on for more new streaming services. Yet, Netflix has stood up and been wary of pitfalls and pratfalls before, and could gain ground over time. One thing's for certain: I can't wait to see the whole thing play out.