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Disney Shows its Cards for Streaming Play, But Leaves Some Questions Unanswered

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  April 12th, 2019  By Joe Supan

Compared to Apple’s streaming news last month, Disney+ came off Thursday as positively forthright. We have a price, a launch date, and a lifetime of readymade Pixar, Marvel, and “Star Wars” IP. We also know exactly what Disney’s ambitions are for the service.

“We are all-in,” CEO Bob Iger told a roomful of investors, as reported by the New York Times and others. (Investors like details apparently: Disney’s stock jumped more than 10% after the announcement, while Apple actually went down the day after its event.)

Here are the essentials:

Price: $6.99/month or $69.99 for an annual subscription
Launch date: Nov. 12
• Will include Disney’s entire catalogue of movies, “Star Wars” films, Marvel movies and 30 seasons of “The Simpsons”
• Will support 4K and HDR content, but the number of titles is unclear
• Everything will be available for offline viewing
• Episodes will be released one at a time

But even with all these specifics, Disney still left plenty of questions unanswered.

Will Disney+ be exclusively for families?

Disney clearly looked at family content as a gap in the streaming market — and one in which it is uniquely positioned to fill.

“If consumers want sports, they can subscribe to ESPN+. If they want adult content, they can subscribe to Hulu, and if they want family, there’s Disney(+),” Iger said, according to a CNBC report.

So what will Disney do with its recently acquired Fox library? Movies such as “Alien” and “Predator” are technically under the Disney umbrella now, but it remains to be seen how much “adult” content Disney+ will include.

What’s available immediately and what gets rolled out over the first year?

Disney gave us plenty of details about what is coming to the service, but the when is still unclear for many titles. We know most of the stuff from the back catalogue will be available immediately — everything from 30 seasons of “The Simpsons” to 18 Pixar movies — but Disney was cagier when it came to the rest of its release schedule, particularly for its original content.

We know big names like “The Mandalorian” and “High School Musical” series will be available on day one, but Disney was vague about the release of its other titles, only saying it plans to add another 500 movies and 2,500 TV episodes over the course of the first year. Marvel series “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” was simply designated as “year one,” while “Loki” with Tom Hiddlestone is scheduled for “year two.”

How much will the Disney+/Hulu/ESPN+ bundle cost?

Kevin Mayer, chairman of Disney’s direct-to-consumer division, said Disney “will likely bundle at a discounted price to offer more value for consumers.” These three services all have distinct types of content — family, adult, and sports — so a bundle is obviously appealing at the right price.

Which streaming devices, smart TVs, and game consoles will Disney+ work with?

Disney didn’t give many specifics on what you’ll be able to stream Disney+ on, only saying it would be available on smart TVs, web browsers, tablets, mobile devices, and game consoles. The Verge reported it will be available on Roku and PlayStation 4, but beyond that, details are light.

What does this mean for Disney content on other services?

CNET reported most of Disney’s content will leave Netflix by the end of 2019, as its 2016 licensing deal expires. It’s less clear how Disney will deal with its content on Hulu. Will Hulu keep its Disney Channel shows or will Disney+ be the exclusive place for family content?

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