Disney’s new streaming service arrived in the UK just as the coronavirus lockdown kicked in. With so many hours to fill, it seemed like a sensible investment. Pretty soon, it was infiltrating my every waking hour. By Sophie ElmhirstA few weeks ago, on a day that was probably like today now that the days are all frighteningly different and yet strangely the same, Disney launched Disney+, its new streaming service, in the UK. The precise date, for those that are still tracking such things, was 24 March, which was also, by coincidence, the date the British lockdown officially started. I had been waiting, impatiently, for both. One felt frivolous, the other historic – a new thing to watch to add to the endless other things to watch versus the sudden transformation of an entire population’s way of life – and yet here they were entwined, perfectly compatible bedfellows.Disney couldn’t have known that the launch of Disney+ would fall upon the same day that 66 million people would be instructed to stay at home for 23 hours a day. They must have set their launch date months ago, long before the first coronavirus case hit Britain, or travellers returned from their fateful half-term Italian skiing holidays, or the prime minister glad-handed his way around a hospital. But to the cynical, it felt like the workings of a darkly prescient marketing strategy. I mean, the timing was ideal. Someone, somewhere in the Disney multiverse must have celebrated – shyly, inappropriately, a quiet elbow bump in a meeting room, perhaps. Continue reading...
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Kevin Mayer led successful launch of Disney streaming serviceTikTok has hinted at ambitions to build music...Kevin Mayer led successful launch of Disney streaming serviceTikTok has hinted at ambitions to build music streaming businessWalt Disney Co’s top streaming executive, Kevin Mayer, will leave the entertainment and theme parks giant to become the chief executive officer of TikTok, the popular video app owned by China’s ByteDance, the companies said on Monday.Mayer led the successful launch of the Disney+ streaming service in November but in February was passed over as Disney’s new chief executive. Continue reading...
Disney Plus is an on-demand, ad-free streaming service with a growing collection of movies and...Disney Plus is an on-demand, ad-free streaming service with a growing collection of movies and shows from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic, and 20th Century Fox. The streaming platform costs $6.99/month or $69.99/year after a seven-day free trial. You can also bundle Disney Plus with Hulu and ESPN+ for $12.99/month, which is about $5 per month less than you'd pay if you subscribed to each service separately. If you'd like to give a Disney Plus subscription to a Disney fan in your life, you can now send an annual gift subscription ($69.99) via email. A new streaming service has joined the ranks of Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and the many other services jostling for control of your TV. Disney Plus features TV and movie content from names we're all well familiar with: Walt Disney Studios and Walt Disney Television. The platform includes a mix of classic titles from Disney's vault and new programs developed exclusively for subscribers. Monthly and yearly plans are available, and the service can even be bundled with Hulu and ESPN+ for more streaming options. Learn more below about how the Disney Plus streaming service works, including what shows and movies are included, how much it costs, and more. What is Disney Plus? Disney Plus is an on-demand, ad-free streaming service created by The Walt Disney Company. With Disney Plus, subscribers can watch thousands of Disney movies and series on their devices (smart TVs, phones, laptops, tablets, and gaming consoles). The service includes unlimited downloads so you can watch anywhere, anytime. Disney Plus content comes from Walt Disney Studios' and Walt Disney Television's biggest names: Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic, and 20th Century Fox. How much does Disney Plus cost? Disney Plus costs $6.99 per month, or $69.99 per year ($5.83/month). This low price includes hours of entertainment spanning many different genres and interests, and best of all, it's all ad-free. There's also an option to buy a bundled package with Hulu and ESPN+, which costs $12.99 per month for all three services. Individually, the ad-supported version of Hulu is currently $5.99 a month, and ESPN+ is $4.99 a month. If you haven't explored the world of streaming services fully yet, the bundle could be the perfect opportunity to do so for a competitive price. Before you commit to this cost, you can start a seven-day free trial. You can also read about how to get the Disney Plus bundle with ESPN Plus and the ad-free version of Hulu. Are there Disney Plus gift cards? Yes. If you're looking for a great gift for that special Disney fan in your life, you can get them a Disney Plus subscription card. The gift subscription is available for one year of the streaming service and costs $69.99. It's sent via email on a date of your choice. Gift subscriptions can only be redeemed by people who are not already signed up for Disney Plus. Learn more about how to buy a Disney Plus gift subscription. How to watch Disney Plus: You can watch Disney Plus from a large variety of places. The service lets you stream on up to four devices simultaneously: Desktop web browsers Mobile devices and tablets (Android and Apple). Learn how the Disney Plus app works. Smart TVs (LG WebOS, Samsung Tizen, Android TV, Vizio SmartCast, Roku TV) Boxes and game consoles (Apple TV 4th Gen and later, PlayStation 4, Roku, Xbox One) Streaming devices (Chromebook, Chromecast, Apple AirPlay, Amazon Fire TV) Does Disney Plus work on Xbox One? Yes, Disney Plus works on the Xbox One, Xbox One S, and Xbox One X. Who should sign up for Disney Plus? Disney Plus is an ideal service for Disney fans, whether they're Marvel geeks or animation aficionados. It's especially suitable for families with children who want to immerse themselves in the vast world of Disney. Though the current lineup of original programming is a bit limited, more exclusive shows are set to be added over the coming months, including new Star Wars and Marvel shows. For now, however, Disney Plus is more of a draw for people who want to watch recent Disney movies and older Disney titles from the studio's vault. If you're someone who always ends up searching for Disney shows and movies on another streaming service anyway, you might want to consider subscribing to Disney Plus because it holds all that content in one convenient place. Disney is also removing its content from a lot of other streaming services, including Netflix, so Disney Plus will soon become the only subscription streaming platform with access to many of its titles. What shows and movies can I watch on Disney Plus? In short, virtually all of the Disney shows and movies that have already been released. You can cry through Pixar's "Coco" and "Up", learn about the world around you through a Nat Geo documentary, and satisfy your comedic itch with an episode of "The Simpsons." You'll have access to classics like "Snow White" along with recent hits like "Captain Marvel." With that said, some Disney titles, like "Avengers: Infinity War," are still temporarily missing from Disney Plus. Their absence is due to existing licensing deals with other services and networks, and all of the missing titles will be added at a later date. Disney Plus also includes all-new, exclusive original programming, such as a Star Wars TV series focused on a Mandalorian bounty hunter, a retelling of "Lady and the Tramp" featuring Tessa Thompson and Justin Theroux, and a new perspective on the familiar objects in our lives through "The World According to Jeff Goldblum." More original shows are on the way as well, including several series set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier," "WandaVision," and "Loki" were all teased in a special Super Bowl trailer. While the library of exclusives is relatively small right now, this upcoming lineup of original content will allow Disney Plus to compete better against other services with more exclusive shows, like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. These are the best original shows and movies to watch on Disney Plus right now: "The Mandalorian" The Western-style take on "Star Wars" takes place five years after the fall of the Empire and focuses on a bounty hunter who journeys far out into the galaxy. "Pixar in Real Life" This hidden camera show features interactions between Pixar characters and people in the real world. "The World According to Jeff Goldblum" Journey along with Jeff Goldblum ("Jurassic Park," "Thor: Ragnarok") as he travels the world to explore subjects that are of interest to him, including how tattoos, ice cream, and sneakers are made and developed. "Marvel Hero Project" The "Marvel Hero Project" pays tribute to extraordinary kids who have helped their community. In each episode, the kids will be surprised with the honor of being made into a Super Hero with their very own Marvel Comic. "Lady and the Tramp" This live-action retelling of the 1955 Disney classic "Lady and the Tramp" has an all-star cast, including Tessa Thompson ("Westworld," "Thor:Ragnarok") as the voice of Lady and Justin Theroux ("The Leftovers," "Maniac") as the voice of Tramp. When are the global release dates for Disney Plus? Disney Plus is now live and available to stream in the US, Canada, the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, and Puerto Rico. The service is also set to launch in Austria, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom on March 24, 2020. Disney Plus is expected to arrive in more global markets, including Belgium, Denmark, Iceland, Finland, Norway, Portugal, and Sweden in summer 2020. How does Disney Plus compare to other streaming services? While services such as Netflix and Hulu cast a wide net over movie and TV entertainment, Disney Plus is much more focused and narrow in scope by revolving entirely around Disney content. Luckily, it doesn't actually feel that limited since Walt Disney Studios and Walt Disney Television create everything from animated kids' movies to action and sci-fi thrillers. It's a major plus that Disney Plus (for the time being) has zero ads. We don't know whether that will change down the line, or whether it will add tiered ad pricing like some other streaming services, but in the meantime, we always appreciate ad-free streaming. At less than $10 a month, it's very affordable compared to major competitors. If you find the Disney content of other streaming services lacking, subscribing to Disney Plus is an affordable way to fix that problem. Of all the major streaming services, it's also one of the most generous in the areas of multiple-device streaming, profile additions, and downloads. You can stream on up to four devices simultaneously, add up to seven profiles, and enjoy unlimited downloads. Disney Plus also offers 4K HDR streaming and Dolby Atmos audio on select titles for no additional cost. This is in contrast to Netflix, which requires subscribers to pay for its most expensive plan to receive 4K support. How do I sign up for Disney Plus? You can sign up on the Disney Plus website. Read everything else you should know about Disney Plus here: How to get a free week of Disney Plus Disney Plus costs $7 a month on its own, but you can bundle it with Hulu and ESPN+ for an extra $6 How to get the Disney Plus bundle with ESPN Plus and the ad-free version of Hulu How to use the Disney Plus app to download and watch movies and shows offline All the new movies you can watch on Disney Plus — from the live-action 'Lady and the Tramp' to holiday comedy 'Noelle' All the new shows you can watch on Disney Plus — from 'The Mandalorian' to new Pixar shorts All the kids' movies you can stream on Disney Plus — from 'Snow White' to 'Frozen' All the new kids' shows you can watch on Disney Plus — from 'Vampirina' to the new reboot of 'Star Wars: The Clone Wars' All the Marvel movies and shows you can stream on Disney Plus — from 'Iron Man' to the new 'Loki' Every single Star Wars movie will be available on Disney Plus All the Pixar films and shorts you can stream on Disney Plus — from 'Toy Story' to 'Inside Out' Join the conversation about this story »
Disney Plus' tech chief explains the biggest challenges he and 1,000 engineers faced getting the service ready for launch
Disney Plus officially landed in the US on November 12. Ahead of the launch, Disney Streaming...Disney Plus officially landed in the US on November 12. Ahead of the launch, Disney Streaming Services' (DSS) CTO Joe Inzerillo broke down the toughest challenges in getting the service off the ground, and how the platform will work to keep subscribers coming back month after month. Inzerillo led a team of 1,000 engineers and 250 product folks who stress tested the service for glitches before the US launch, though there were still technical issues on release day. The team also spent a lot of time trying make Disney's blockbusters look as good on home TVs and smartphones as they do in theaters. While much of the current attention is on getting the service off the ground, Inzerillo said his team is also working on improving content recommendations to prevent cancellations. Click here for more BI Prime stories. The chief technology officer of Disney Streaming Services, the company that built Disney Plus, appeared cautiously optimistic before the service's November 12 US launch. Joe Inzerillo, who joined Disney through its acquisition of BAMTech (now Disney Streaming Services), worked on streaming platforms before, such as HBO Now, the MLB's streaming service, PlayStation Vue, and Disney's ESPN Plus. But none were on the scale that Disney Plus aspires to. Within five years, Disney expects the service to be profitable, and have 60 to 90 million subscribers, roughly half half the member base of Netflix today. Some Wall Street analysts think Disney Plus could reach its target even faster. "This is not going to be a niche product," Inzerillo told Business Insider at a media event in New York, on the Friday before the service's US launch. "This is going to be big." With Disney Plus, Disney is jumping fully into the streaming waters, after dipping its toes in with other streaming platforms, like ESPN Plus, a subscription complement to Disney's sports-cable networks that launched last year, and Hulu, which Disney recently took full control of. The legacy media giant was the king of cable TV thanks to media networks like ESPN that commanded colossal audiences and supplied half of Disney's operating income. But, as people in the US abandoned traditional TV in droves, it became clear that Disney needed a stronghold in streaming to hold onto its crown. Disney Plus will be the company's "crown jewel" in streaming, Kevin Mayer, chairman of the direct-to-consumer and international business at Disney, said at the same event. Disney Plus got off to a bumpy start on Tuesday Disney Plus got off to a bumpy start in the US on Tuesday, when many people reported technical difficulties while using the service. A Disney spokesperson said the problems were due to higher than expected demand, and that the company was working rapidly to fix them. Inzerillo's team of about 1,000 engineers and 250 product folks spent much of the last 12 to 18 months trying to prevent some of these issues, by testing the service, pushing it until it broke and then fixing it. But technical glitches were still expected. "We haven't solved everything by any means," Mayer said at the event ahead of launch. "I'm sure we'll find some new things when we launch in the US." The largest test for Disney Plus was in the Netherlands, where a limited version of the service was tested for the past two months. There were glitches there, too. The biggest problems were on older devices, like smartphones and streaming media players that were released years earlier, Inzerillo said. Streaming incumbents, like Netflix and Amazon, perfected their platforms on each device as they hit the market. Disney is now playing catch up. A unique challenge on Disney Plus was bringing the company's blockbusters to home TVs and mobile phones, without compromising on creators' visions Aside from some of the infrastructure issues, the biggest challenge Inzerillo said he faced that was unlike any other platform he worked on was in translating Disney's big blockbusters to home TVs and mobile phones, without compromising on creators' original visions, and sparing users' mobile data or broadband plans. "It's really, are we delivering on the artist's vision from these incredibly creative folks that have made these amazing blockbuster pieces of cinema and other kinds of serial content," Inzerillo said, "and can we make that happen for you at home or on your mobile device with a pair of headphones on, on the train." Disney partnered with Dolby to offer many of Disney Plus' original series and movies, as well as some theatrical releases coming to the service including all the Star Wars saga films, in Dolby's high dynamic range (HDR) 4K video format, called Dolby Vision. "What Jon Favreau sees in the edit suite is what he wants you see in your living rooms," Tom Lattie, senior director of commercial partnerships at Dolby said, referring to the director behind "Iron Man" and showrunner of the Disney Plus original series "The Mandalorian." Dolby has been a frequent partner of Disney, which released all of its major films from the past two years in Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, the company's audio format. Inzerillo's team at Disney Plus has also been going back through Disney's film archive and updating the home-video versions of contemporary movies, like "Iron Man," to the HDR format. "We went deeper and broader than certainly any project we've ever done at [Disney Streaming Services] and I'd argue, you'll see over time, I think we're going to go deeper and broader than anybody's ever gone," Inzerillo said. The team at Disney Plus is also thinking about how to reduce cancellations as the streaming wars heat up While the last 18 months at Disney Streaming Services have been all about the launch of Disney Plus, Inzerillo said he's thinking about the next phase, when keeping subscribers hooked on the service will be just as important as enticing them to sign up. "I make the argument, personally, that churn is the biggest indicator of the health of an SVOD service," Inzerillo said. "Getting people in is marketing ... The Walt Disney Company, I think we do it better than anybody to get people in, but if they stay in it, it means they take value month after month." Disney Plus will also have to battle a slew of new subscription services, including HBO Max, Peacock, and Quibi, that are lined up to launch in the next six months, on top of incumbents like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. Inzerillo said his team can best prevent churn, or cancellations, by helping people finding the content they want to watch. When users first log into the Disney Plus app, the programming will be curated by Disney, because the platform won't have user data yet. Recommendations will become more personalized over time, as Disney Plus learns, through machine learning, from the way people interact with the service. The platform tries to entice people to set up multiple profiles by offering fun avatars of Disney characters, because more profiles suggest that more members of the family will using the service, inherently making it more valuable. The algorithms, by the way, also learn from the icons people select. "That gives us some signal about what you might be interested in," Inzerillo said. "You're unlikely to put 'The Mandalorian' there if you're not a Star Wars fan." And the recommendation engine takes cues from the choices people make on different devices, and throughout the day. On a subway commute home, for instance, some users might be more interested in Pixar shorts than movies or full-length series. "A lot of what we talk about when we talk about [Disney Streaming Services], especially on the early part, gets focused on the technology and shipping the product for obvious reasons," Inzerillo said. "But really over time it's the performance marketing, it's getting people into the product or retaining them or preventing churn. That's also part of what our mandate is."SEE ALSO: The top Disney Plus exec says it will have to push beyond its family-friendly image to succeed, and its Netherlands test run hints at how Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Behind the scenes with Shepard Smith — the Fox News star who just announced his resignation from the network