It seems the debuts of major streaming services (and streaming shows) almost never adhere to the premiere dates they promote. Disney+ was like Apple TV+ and gave everyone an early preview the night before going live for those waiting with bated breath.
My first look at Disney+ was at 11:00 p.m. on November 11 with an immediate eye pop at the movie/TV catalog available. After all, this is the mother lode of film and TV show vaults thanks to Disney owning three major media properties beyond their own.
If you can argue they seriously erred in promoting movies they don’t yet have rights to, the majority of content available still became overwhelming enough. No doubt the strategy is to have us absorb all of it over the next year until they’re able to complete most of their missing pieces so they truly will have “everything.”
An initial test was to stream the Disney classics and see whether they could make the big transition to the streaming world. I somehow avoided the technical glitches thousands of people experienced in the early hours and managed to stream the colorful epics like “Fantasia” and “Sleeping Beauty” on my Samsung smart TV.
The good news is they looked even better than the Blu-Rays I still own, which was unexpected with a Wi-Fi connection. Scenes from “Sleeping Beauty” and “Fantasia” and “Snow White” looked eerily ethereal in a beautiful 4K shine.
Knowing we can stream Disney classics for time immemorial and have them look otherworldly is already a media dream fulfilled. Streaming the newer things looked a little different.
When streaming “The Mandalorian”, it looked visually darker, if still crisp 4K quality. Even watching scenes of “Avengers: Endgame” seemed like it wasn’t quite bright enough. Whether a 4K flaw, or just my own TV, it’s still a tech puzzle.
What I really discovered is most of Disney+ should be watched on a big-screen smart TV with a reliable Wi-Fi connection. “The Mandalorian” alone is like a big-screen space spaghetti western that’s playing like an eight-hour movie.
Also, who would really watch Disney classics on a mobile device? Maybe if you have nothing else to watch while in a busy waiting room, watching on a tablet or smartphone would be convenient. Only the casual originals or episodic TV would work better on mobile, but I’m guessing more people will stream Disney+ on their TV’s than they will Apple TV+, Netflix, or anything else.
As imperfect as Disney+ may be in not having everything (yet), plus using wrong aspect ratios on “The Simpsons” (something they’ll amend in the coming year), they’ve just thrown the gauntlet in shaping what the future of streaming will look like into the 2020s.
What Will Disney+ Be in a Few Years?
You could make an argument Disney+ opened maybe a year too soon. When you consider some of their most anticipated Marvel and “Star Wars” originals won’t even be debuted until well into next year and even 2021, you could call this first year an acclimation.
Perhaps the original strategy was to open a year early and get users into a gradual media flow. There’s definitely enough there now to keep viewers busy for a year. By 2021, we’ll really know whether Disney+ will become the leader in the streaming universe.
In my view, it’s going to become bigger than it already is based squarely on Marvel originals consolidating there, if not most “Star Wars” content. Latter goes on a hunch the big-screen movie franchises for “Star Wars” may not be so plentiful anymore.
Imagining Disney+ eventually having every Disney movie ever made, plus being the central hub for all things Marvel and “Star Wars”, should strike all other services with a little bit of fear.
The jury’s still out on whether Netflix can keep people interested in their originals in years ahead, and the same with Apple TV+. Certainly latter’s “The Morning Show”, “See”, and “Dickinson” are worth sticking with now. Regardless, there’s nothing definite in how long the public will stay committed to new things.
At Disney, they have established brands that are more than likely going to keep everyone riveted for years. If “The Mandalorian” is any indication, there’s going to be a lot of happy Disney+ campers when connecting the shows to discussions on social media.
Disney just shaped the future of streaming profoundly, something that’s easy to miss when being so easily entertained with their media catalog during the service’s first week.
(For further individual takes on Disney+, Apple TV+, and other upcoming streaming services, visit my profile at The Cheat Sheet.)