Early impressions of Disney+

posted by Jeff | Thursday, November 14, 2019, 10:50 PM | comments: 0

You might have heard, Disney launched a new streaming service on Tuesday called Disney+. The company has made a number of very important acquisitions over the years, including Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, and most recently, the Fox studio businesses. Getting all of this under one roof was an important strategy for CEO Bob Iger, but he also saw a future that shifts watching habits to streaming. He's willing to take on some pain and even cannibalize the existing business instead of letting someone else do it. Apparently, 10 million people were signed up the first day.

I signed up in the morning, because they offered a bundle for Hulu subscribers, which we already have. Basically it's $14 to get Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+, or $6 more if you want the ad-free version of Hulu (which we pay for). We already get Amazon Prime, so if you ignore the fact that it includes the shipping and same-day service, we basically pay $30 per month for a whole lot of streaming capability, which seems like a pretty good value to me.

While Hulu covers the network TV, and a number of minor cable networks as well, Disney+ includes almost everything they own, save for a few movies that other services have dibs on though next summer, and a few distribution deals that linger, like Sony's use of Spiderman and Paramount's distribution rights to Indiana Jones. It's nice to have access to all of that, and the big surprise for me is all of the stuff I've missed from National Geographic.

To me though, the real excitement is all of the new original stuff. I'm excited about The Mandalorian, a new Star Wars series about a bounty hunter, The World According to Jeff Goldblum, which is kind of a cross between How Things Work and Mythbusters or something, an extraordinary documentary series about Imagineering and a goofy reality show about high school musicals being made by casts a decade after graduation called Encore! There are a few others yet to start, but the original stuff is all pretty compelling so far.

There were a few problems the morning of launch for me, mostly around creating profiles, but I was at work anyway, so not a big deal. That night, I couldn't start the Imagineering doc, but that resolved itself in ten minutes or so. It's been pretty smooth since then, as Simon has watched most of the Mickey Mouse cartoons he loves already. The criticism has been pretty harsh about the tech problems, but honestly, no one has ever launched a streaming service picked up by 10 million people in the first day before. As someone who literally loses sleep over scalability problems for a living, I'm willing to cut them a little slack as long as it gets better soon.

For me, I look forward to the originals, and catching up on some of the Marvel movies, including Endgame, that I haven't seen. We're not really "Disney people" in the pin-trading super-nerd sense of things, but they own a lot of great content (and cruise ships), so they end up separating us from a lot of money that way. I think this service is a bold move, and nostalgia will certainly rope people in for a bit. The real challenge is good, original new stuff that will make the long-term argument. They need a Mrs. Maisel and a Jack Ryan or Fleabag to make it work in subsequent years.


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