November 12th’s launch of Disney+, the brand new Walt Disney video streaming service was released alongside plenty of controversy, which has become a common theme regarding any of the Mouse’s endeavours in the past few years. Cable cutting has become an increasingly popular occurrence in North America as a result of the high costs of television subscription packages, however the video streaming industry has also become progressively more expensive for consumers. Netflix, Amazon Prime, Crave, Hulu, Apple TV+, and now Disney+ are just a few of the many TV and movie streaming services available, and each platform has begun producing more of their own exclusive productions while losing the rights to broadcast content from other studios. This has led to a confusing, difficult to traverse entertainment landscape with arguably too many options available on the market. Much has been said about Disney’s growing power and dictation of the entertainment industry, and I’m here to breakdown the conglomerate’s latest venture and whether or not it’s worth buying for the average Ryerson student.
Although originally slated for a 6 A.M. EST release on November 12th, I was actually able to access the service around 12:30 A.M. on my Roku streaming stick, and immediately signed up for the seven-day free trial to begin watching the new Disney+ Original, The Mandalorian. Upon signing up and exploring the interface, I quickly found that it quite possibly possesses the most visually appealing, smooth, and easy to use menus among the different services available in Canada. The dark-grey and blue colour scheme paired with the rounded edges of objects within the application gives the service a soft, yet elegant look and feel. The rows of subsections and genres are no different than those of other streaming platforms, which makes sense, as I have never had any difficulty with this type of navigation. The stable, high-definition playback is extremely consistent and I haven’t yet witnessed any drop in quality, which was very surprising given the trouble I’ve had with other platforms in the past. Additionally, the accessibility and user-preference settings such as subtitles and skipping intros are all easily toggled, although it seems as though the menu does not yet offer a “Continue Watching” or “Previously Watched” panel. These features aren’t deal breakers in any way, but they do help to improve the quality of life within the service, so I hope that they are added eventually. I would also like to note that some users did experience bugs, technical difficulties and trouble signing in at launch, which was thankfully not an issue whatsoever for myself.
Content-wise, Disney+ has everything that one would expect from a Disney library, and more. Popular franchises such as Star Wars, Marvel, the Simpsons, and National Geographic are all here in full force, and mid-2000s favourites like High School Musical, Hannah Montana, and Wizards of Waverly Place are also present, which has been a large contributor to interest for University students based on the people that I’ve talked to both within and outside of Ryerson. Disney’s classics are also all available for streaming, so fans of Cinderella, The Lion King, and Toy Story and movies of the like will have nothing to worry about. Disney+ has yet to achieve the vast library that Netflix does, but I would argue that the overall quality-per-production is much higher with Disney+. An example of this is the service’s launch day original series The Mandalorian, which has been a breath of fresh air for the Star Wars franchise through two episodes thus far.
Ryerson students on a budget may have difficulty committing to Disney+, as the service is still sorting out the kinks, but I would recommend starting the week-long free trial before deciding on whether or not it is worth subscribing to. Rent, music and video streaming, and gym memberships are a few of the many monthly costs that students must consider, so adding another $8 a month for Disney+ may not be feasible for everyone. From a content standpoint, there Disney+ certainly offers enough to justify the price, and many of the shows and movies serve as a nostalgic hook for people of all ages. Personally, I currently plan to stay subscribed, as the content caters to my interests more than Netflix or Amazon Prime. If you’re not into Disney, Star Wars, or Marvel content, this service may not do too much for you, but if you are, Disney+ is probably the best streaming service on the market.