By John Gruber
Disney+ will launch in the U.S. on November 12, for $7 a month. It will have a very large library of old Disney movies and TV shows — crucially, including titles from its Marvel, Pixar and Star Wars catalog — along with new movies and series made exclusively for the streaming service. It won’t have any ads. And it will allow subscribers to download all of that stuff, and watch it offline, whenever they want.
For comparison: A standard Netflix subscription now costs $13 a month.
I don’t think it’s either/or — I’ll certainly cough up $70/year in addition to whatever it is I’m paying for Netflix, and I’m sure tens of millions of others will too. But for the cost-conscious or simply those with a low threshold of subscription fatigue, $7/month for Disney+ looks like a much better deal than $13/month for Netflix. For those with young kids, it looks even better. In terms of depth of content, remember that Disney recently acquired 21st Century Fox — Disney+ will be the only streaming service with The Simpsons, to name just one Fox franchise now under the Disney umbrella.
$7 is really quite a deal — both by Netflix’s current prices and Disney’s own. $7 is about what it costs for a small box of popcorn and a bottle of water at Disney World.
Disney’s event still left several unknowns, some of which won’t get answered anytime soon: For instance, does Disney plan on distributing its service via big internet platforms like Amazon and Apple, who are now officially frenemies with the media giant?
I’ll eat my hat if Disney+ isn’t available for Apple TV and iOS devices. The only question is whether they’ll work out a deal with Apple to allow sign-ups on the device, or if, like Netflix now, you’ll have to sign up on the web before using the service’s apps on Apple devices.
Keep in mind that Disney CEO Bob Iger sits on Apple’s board. So did Eric Schmidt, of course — before Android. I don’t see this like that. Disney+ is central to Disney’s future. Apple TV+ is not central to Apple. I know Apple News+ and Apple Music are both $10/month, and Apple Arcade might cost $10/month, but I don’t think Apple expects to charge $10/month just for Apple TV+. I continue to think Apple TV+ will be something they add on for “free” when you pay for some sort of bundle with other Apple subscriptions — or maybe it will cost $10/month if it’s the only thing you subscribe to from Apple, but they know that most people will get it as a “free” bonus.
(And, in case you missed it, Peter Kafka was my guest on the most recent episode of The Talk Show — very timely, even though we recorded a week ago.)