Movies & TV / Columns

Grading The First Week of Disney+

November 16, 2019 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
The Mandalorian

I’ve run out of different ways of phrasing witty sentences that involve the term “streaming wars”. Things became real this past week when Walt Disney’s Disney+ streaming-video service launched to massive buzz and anticipation. 

By all accounts it had a very good start, with 10 million people signing up in the first 24 hours.

But it wasn’t without issues and questions. 

As far as any “streaming war” and shockwaves in the industry, Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos was asked what has changed for Netflix with the Disney launch and he said, “I don’t mean to say this [as] anything but the truth, which is — nothing, really.”

“Our focus has been, and it will be, on making great content people love, delivered seamlessly,” said Sarandos. Elaborating: “We’ve been competing with Disney and all these other folks who are coming into this from the beginning.” Despite different delivery forms in the past, it’s “the exact same players, the exact same content… so nothing really changes.”

Fair enough. As far as launch day remarks, The Mandalorian seemed to garner the biggest mentions on social media. The positive comments focused on the show “getting Star Wars right and guessing on what the ending of the first episode meant in the greater scheme of things.

Also getting noticed was the vast library of classic Disney movies and shows. Nostalgia was running wild as subscribers looked for that one obscure program and sharing it online with others. Some did note that the service was lacking in offerings for adults. While I loved The World According to Jeff Goldblum, I didn’t see a whole lot of new content that captured my interest. 

As expected, Disney+, overwhelmed by the demand, had its issues, including customers being unable to log in to the service, access specific content, or use certain streaming devices. When they called Disney’s customer service line, they were met with hold times that reached for an hour or more hold times. 

Disney+’s Twitter responded to the glitches by saying:

The demand for #DisneyPlus has exceeded our highest expectations. We are so pleased you’re excited to watch all your favorites and are working quickly to resolve any current issues. We appreciate your patience.

Outside that, the question on plenty of people’s minds is: What’s next? With more Star Wars, Marvel, and Disney original content, along with offerings from their Fox purchase, the near future looks bright. 

Others have different questions. Like LightShed Partners analyst Rich Greenfield. “Can Disney Plus hold onto the huge number of early subscribers and continue to add new subscribers?” Greenfield asked after the launch. “Data from Google Trends comparing Disney Plus to Netflix should temper investor excitement over day one Disney+ subscribers and reinforces our belief that Netflix will be largely unaffected by the launch.”

Overall, while not perfect, Disney+ had a solid launch that exceeded expectations. A strong A. The real test starts now as people are fickle and will want new content…post haste! Did you sign up for Disney+? Thoughts?