Get ready for a deluge of advertising as the Disney marketing department starts promoting Disney+. When the streaming service launches on November 12, you’ll get to stream all the content from Disney, Star Wars, Marvel and more. Flixed has compiled the latest news to give you everything you need to know before Disney+ launches.
Disney+ Launch: Prices and Bundles
The monthly subscription for Disney+ will only cost $7 per month. An annual subscription will sell for $70, saving customers about $14 a year.
This affordable pricing surprised many in the industry who seemed skeptical that Americans had room in their streaming budgets for yet another subscription service. The announcement from Disney led media analysts to change their opinions of the Disney+ pricing. This was reinforced by Netflix’s decision earlier in the year to raise its subscription rates.
Since family members have a wide variety of interests, Disney announced in August, it will bundle its major streaming services for only $13 per month. This special rate will get you family-friendly content from Disney+, the more adult-centric content from Hulu’s on-demand library as well as the sports content from ESPN+. You’ll still have to watch ads on Hulu and you won’t get live TV. But the price is a good deal since these three services would cost $18 per month if purchased separately.
At the moment, although you can’t pre-register for Disney+, you can give Disney your email address to get the latest updates. If you’re a member of D23, the official Disney fan club, then you will get to go to the front of the line. D23 members will get early access ahead of the Disney+ launch.
Disney+ Launch: Star Wars, Disney, Marvel, Pixar and More
What makes the low Disney+ subscription price so compelling is the quality of the content you’ll be able to watch. Unlike Netflix or Amazon Prime Video which try to appeal to everybody by pulling as much content as they can into their libraries, Disney+ has a more focused approach.
“If you compare us to Netflix, we’re going to have far less product than they do,” Iger told analysts, “but we’re relying on the strength of our brands and the fervor that fans of those brands have for the product that we make.”
Disney+ will consolidate family-friendly content from the libraries of its various production studios. Besides the Disney-branded studios, this archived content will come from Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, Pixar Animation Studios and the studios Disney got in the Fox acquisition.
All told, Disney+ will launch with more than 7,500 TV episodes, 100 recent-release films and more than 400 movies going back to the classic era of Disney animation. Here are some highlights showing what you can expect on day one.
Disney Studios catalog
In the past, Disney has used a policy called the Disney Vault to cycle its films in and out of circulation. For the first time, almost all of Disney’s animated and live-action films will be available on Disney+. This includes 70 animation titles like Steamboat Willie, Bambi and Wall-E. Another 240 Disney live-action titles and thousands of episodes from Disney’s TV studios will also be available.
At launch, Disney+ will have all of the Star Wars and “Star Wars Story” films as well as the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels. The final film in the Skywalker Saga, Star Wars Episode IX: Rise of Skywalker, will hit the streaming service in 2020. There’s no word yet on the Star Wars Holiday Special.
Marvel Studios catalog
The blockbuster hits Avengers: Endgame and Captain Marvel will be the first new releases from the Marvel Cinematic Universe to be Disney+ exclusives. As licensing deals with other streaming services expire, all of the other 20 films in the MCU will make their home at Disney+.
Pixar Animation Studios catalog
Eighteen films from Pixar’s library will be available on Disney+. This includes Pixar’s first hit, Toy Story, as well as its latest hit, Toy Story 4.
National Geographic catalog
The National Geographic Society spun off its media production arm into a joint venture with Fox. Now the National Geographic channels and magazine are part of The Walt Disney Company. When Disney+ launches, you’ll have access to more than 600 hours of content focusing on nature, science and society. The kids show Amazing Planet, the wildlife documentary series Great Migrations and the astronaut-narrated One Strange Rock are among the NatGeo shows you’ll be able to watch.
20th Century Fox catalog
The Fox acquisition brought 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight under the Disney umbrella. Much of their content will not fit within the Disney+ focus on family-friendly content. However, assets like Avatar, The Simpsons and Malcolm in the Middle will make their way to the streaming services. The acquisition also consolidated ownership of the Star Wars franchise as well as the X-Men and Deadpool franchises.
Muppets Studio catalog
The Jim Henson Company had a turbulent history after the death of its founding muppeteer in 1990. While owned by a German company, the rights to the Sesame Street muppets (except Kermit) were sold to the Sesame Workshop. Henson’s heirs got the company back and then sold Disney their rights to The Muppets in 2004. Since then, however, Disney hasn’t been able to restore Kermit and friends to their 80s-era popularity.
With all the noise about Disney+, the company has been surprisingly quiet about the Muppets. There’s no indication whether The Muppet Show or either version of Muppet Babies will be part of the Disney+ catalog.
Disney+ Launch: Original Content
Disney executives believe the extensive back catalog will get people to sign up for Disney+ while the original content keeps people subscribed. All of Disney’s studios are producing family-friendly movies, TV series and shorts for the streaming service. Here’s just a sampling of what you can expect over the next few years.
Disney Studios original content
Disney Studios will produce one of the two live-action series available when Disney+ launches in November. High School Musical: The Musical: The Series will be a self-referential scripted series based on the original film High School Musical. The show follows a fictional high school’s production of High School Musical over the course of a 10-episode series. In 2020, Disney+ will release Diary of a Female President which tells the story of a 12-year-old Cuban American girl’s life in middle school.
Disney will also produce several original films for its streaming service. An animated re-telling of the classic Lady & The Tramp will be available at launch. An adaptation of the young adult novel Stargirl, the from-true-life story Togo, an adaptation of Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made, a Phineas and Ferb film, and the Christmas-themed Noelle are all scheduled for release in 2020.
Lucasfilm original content
The other live-action TV original series to launch with Disney+ will be The Mandalorian. Set in the period after the events of Star Wars Episode VI: The Last Jedi, the show follows a gunfighter living on the outskirts of the New Republic. Fans of Ahsoka Tano will get 12 new episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars in 2020. And in 2021, Disney+ will release a Rogue One: A Star Wars Story prequel series based on the life of Cassian Andor.
Marvel Studios original content
With all hands on deck for Avengers: Endgame, there must not have been time to produce original content from the MCU. Marvel fans will need to wait until late 2020 for The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. Loki, WandaVision and Hawkeye will follow in 2021 as will the animated series What If…?
Pixar Animation Studios original content
Pixar’s original content for Disney+ will also take time to ramp up. At launch, we’ll see two productions from the animation studio. SparkShorts will highlight the talents of Pixar animators and storytellers. The Toy Story spinoff Forky Asks a Question will be a 10-installment series of shorts. Another Toy Story character, Bo Peep, will get her own short film in 2020. An animated series based on Monsters, Inc. will arrive in 2020.
20th Century Fox original content
Disney is still integrating the various Fox studios, so the original programming from these studios may take time to arrive. However, Disney has already said that Home Alone, Night at the Museum and Diary of a Wimpy Kid are up for reboots and reinterpretations.
Muppets Studios original content
The Muppets Studio is reportedly in production of a reboot of The Muppets for Disney+. The show originally appeared on ABC in 2015, but dropped off the screen after terrible reviews and low ratings. Disney itself hasn’t mentioned plans for Muppets-based content.
Can Disney+ Succeed?
Subscription fatigue is a growing problem for cord-cutters. A growing number of streaming services are competing for a share of TV-watchers’ limited budgets. While more sophisticated cord-cutters can limit their spending by canceling services, not everyone wants to juggle subscriptions.
The question many in the industry as is whether Disney+ has what it takes to survive the inevitable shakeup in the streaming business. A low price is a good start, but hardly enough. Yet the fact is that Disney has the infrastructure and the fan base it needs to succeed. More importantly, it has no choice — streaming direct-to-consumer is the only way Disney itself will survive the streaming age.
What’s Driving Disney+?
Streaming is disrupting the entire entertainment industry. Top talent who would have avoided episodic series in times past are jumping at offers from Netflix and Amazon. Cable and satellite TV providers are losing subscribers as more and more people cut the cord.
Since Disney is firmly entrenched in the traditional media industry, these changes pose a significant threat to the media company’s future. The acquisition of Fox and the launch of Disney+ are central elements of Disney CEO Bob Iger’s strategy for surviving the streaming revolution.
Leveraging the Disney Streaming Infrastructure
Major League Baseball developed its own streaming media technology in the mid-2020s but decided to spin it off into the BAMTech joint venture with Disney in 2015. Disney bought the rest of BAMTech two years later.
Disney used this technology as the basis for ESPN’s streaming operations, including ESPN+. That same technology is now being used to develop Disney+. It’s also the reason Disney will be able to bundle its streaming services since they will all operate on the same platform.
Leveraging Disney’s Marketing Infrastructure
Given streaming’s importance, The Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger told Wall Street analysts in August that Disney+ is “going to be treated as the most important product that the company has launched in… quite a long time.”
At the company’s early 2019 investor day, Disney+ President Ricky Strauss explained that “one of the clear advantages we have in marketing Disney+ is our access to an incredible number of touch points across The Walt Disney Company.”
From the Disney parks to its cruise lines, its retail stores, its branded credit cards and its TV networks, Disney+ will become a core part of the company’s promotion strategy. The company estimates it will reach more than 100 million households through an “unprecedented” marketing campaign.
“It’s a significant push,” Strauss said. “Our entire company is actively supporting it. There truly is no bigger priority for The Walt Disney Company going forward.”
Leveraging Disney’s True Fans
Even though Disney+ will have less content than streaming services like Netflix and Amazon, the company is confident that the strong appeal of its media properties will let quality compensate for quantity.
In early 2019, Iger went had a detailed conversation with analyst Michael Nathanson. “You look at Disney fans and you look at Pixar fans and Marvel fans and Star Wars fans — those are incredibly passionate groups of millions and millions of people around the world who’d like more connection to the product.”
That passion for each media property will let Disney cross-market other Disney products. Iger gave an example of Star Wars fans on Disney+. “We may be able to figure out how to give them discounts on buying Star Wars goods, or a visit to Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland or Disney World, those sorts of things. It sounds like it’s just extra marketing, but we think we can create more value for the customer too.”
Chris Casper is a former tech industry product manager who escaped from California for New Mexico. Now he writes about science and tech while searching for the perfect green chile sauce.