Disney+ review 2021: Is it any good?

It was the most anticipated launch in the Australian streaming TV space for years, but is Disney+ any good? It's Finder's Disney+ review.

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Disney+ 2021 review verdict

Disney+ ticks all the boxes you'd expect from a modern-day streaming TV service. It's a shame it offers no significant evolution to what we've seen from Netflix, Apple TV+, Stan or Foxtel Now, but that should hardly count against it. What may put people off is the relatively small amount of exclusive, new content – although as of 2021 that's starting to improve. And while initially the overall tonal decision to omit Disney's mature/adult-orientated movies and TV shows worked against it, the arrival of the Star channel has rectified that concern. With the addition of Star, the Disney+ library has shifted from great to excellent and offers something for everyone. The new price point is a bit rich considering there's still a huge reliance on legacy content, but given the generous family sharing, simultaneous stream and 4K/Dolby Atmos resolution, it remains good value.


Get Disney+ if... you're a family seeking an endless supply of content to suit all ages or a diehard Star Wars/Marvel fan who wants to consume the exclusive new content.

Avoid Disney+ if... you want a lot of new exclusive content arriving every other week.


Best deal: While you can pay month to month at $11.99 for Disney+, the $119.99 yearly sub – effectively getting two months for free – is worth the investment. These new prices start 23 February 2021.

When it launched in the United States, Disney+ found 10 million subscribers in the first 24 hours and no shortage of server issues. A week later, on 19 November 2019, the anticipated streaming TV service landed in Australia. It found similar success. As of the start of 2021, Disney+ boasts 86 million subscribers worldwide.

So, how does it compare to Australia's own streaming TV giants like Foxtel Now, Stan, BINGE and Netflix?

As a company, Disney needs no introduction. It's huge – like Dumbo's ears, Donald's temper, Han Solo's ego, Hulk's biceps and Homer's love of doughnuts.

Also read: Step-by-step guide to getting Disney+ free trial.

You know the brands. Star Wars, Pixar, Marvel, Mickey Mouse, The Simpsons, National Geographic, Toy Story… we could go on. And on. And on. Prior to 2019, they had been spread out across the gamut of Australian TV streaming services. You could find them on Netflix, Stan and Foxtel, for a while. Then they would rotate providers and then rotate back.

Now, these brands and countless others have a place to call home. It's Disney+. And with the arrival of the Star channel, even more quality content is shifting to Disney+. Essentially, as Disney+ gets better, it actively makes its competitors worse.

The pros and cons of Disney+


Pros

  • The price is right at $11.99 per month or $119.99 per year (from 23 Feb 2021)
  • A single price tier for all features
  • 4K, Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision supported
  • A massive library of quality content
  • Family-focused content is suitable for everyone
  • It actively makes the content libraries of competing services worse
  • Plenty of great-looking exclusives into 2021 and beyond
  • Excellent device support

Cons

  • Light on exclusive new content
  • You have seen the vast majority of the library before
  • Lack of mature content hampers library diversity
  • Question marks over launch stability during peak times
  • Further dilution of streaming TV service adds another subscription to your list

Disney+ design, features and UI

Summary: Meets but does not evolve expectations

Turning on Disney+ for the first time won't blow your mind. Whereas the likes of Kayo Sports launched with a host of unique and evolutionary features, and even Apple TV+ had that unique, Apple feel, Disney+ is a by-the-numbers Netflix clone. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but some innovation would have been nice.

Some featured content boxes interrupt line after line of horizontal EPGs broken out into genres and "trending search" filters. You can jump straight into Kids mode or select from the five major Disney pillars: Disney, Star Wars, Marvel, National Geographic and Pixar. You can download anything you want for offline use, too.

In fact, Disney ticks almost all the expected boxes when it comes to features. As well as offline viewing, there's 4K, Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision support for selected films and TV. Naturally, this is mostly true of recent productions, but there were some older-school surprises in the 4K Disney+ list, including Star Wars.

Four simultaneous streams and family sharing for up to seven accounts rounds out the key features. The only noticeable failing at launch was the lack of a "continue watching" service. Quite the oversight really, but alas Disney has now included it plus two other new features.

Disney+ price and value

Summary: It's a good deal

That Disney+ offers everything for $11.99 per month helps it really stand out against Netflix's 4K premium plan, which is $19.95 per month. It also outcompetes Stan ($17.99 per month) and BINGE ($14 per month). Disney+ also easily outcompetes Apple TV+ in content, despite the latter being $7.99 per month. Only Amazon Prime, at $6.99 per month really offers a comparable library for a much better price.

If you're confident you will love the service, you can also get Disney+ for $119.99 per year, effectively bringing the cost down to $10 per month.

Props must also be given to the range of compatible devices Disney+ has launched with. Outside of a native Mac app, a few smart TV brands and AirPlay support, it's exhaustive. PC, iOS, Android, Apple TV, Android TV, Amazon Fire, Chromecast, PS4, Xbox, Windows 10 and smart TVs (LG, Samsung). Well done.

Note the price for Disney+ was originally $8.99 per month and $89.99 per year in Australia. But the 23 February 2021 price change saw it rise alongside the arrival of the Star channel.

Disney+ content review

Summary: Big on classics, small on originals

For sheer size and international significance, Disney+ feels like the first genuine competitor to Netflix in the streaming TV space. This was not originally the case. Where Netflix had become the home for mature – if not adult-focused – original content, Disney was a family-focused affair heavily leaning on legacy experiences. It's was paradise for children, with just enough cross-demographic content to keep parents and fanboys (or girls) tethered.

But to be fair dinkum, Disney+ only had the one standout launch exclusive. It's was a good one; the rather excellent live-action Star Wars series The Mandalorian. It's essential viewing for any Star Wars fans and a fun entry point for those who managed to live in a Wookie-free bubble for the past 40 years.

There were some other launch exclusives, but they bring little urgency. Lady and the Tramp and Noelle are notable movies. Some documentaries like Marvel Hero Project, comedies like High School Musical: The Musical: The Series and a Jeff Goldblum curiosity are also available. Kids have some short films from Pixar to dive into with the new Forky Asks a Question series, too.

Through 2020 and most notably in 2021, that has changed. More content has been added every month, from new big exclusives movies like Soul, Howard and Black Beauty, to TV and documentary content. Not to mention increased access to legacy content, such as the arrival of huge TV series like The Simpsons and classic films like Avatar and the eight X-Men films.

It's the arrival of the Star channel that has really chased away any lingering fears around Disney+ content. Launching on 23 February 2021, it makes Disney+ not just a family-focused streaming solution. It's now got over 1,000 movies and TV seasons of mature content. This includes new Star Originals content found exclusively through Disney+ and the latest seasons of everything from Family Guy to Grey's Anatomy.

When I originally wrote this review, I said Disney+ was great for families and fanboys. Now it's great for everyone.

How does Disney+ compare to Apple TV+, Netflix, Stan and Foxtel Now?

Features Disney+ Apple TV+ Netflix Stan BINGE Foxtel Now (Pop, Lifestyle and Movies) Amazon Prime
Price/month $11.99 (or $119.99/year) $7.99 $9.99/$13.99/$19.99 $10/$14/$19 $10/$14/$18 $45.00 $6.99 (or $59.99/year)
Free trial No 7 days No 30 days 14 days 10 days 30 Days
Release date 19 December 19 2 November 19 24 March 15 26 January 15 25 May 20 7 June 17 1 December 17
Simultaneous streams 4 6 1/2/4 1/3/4 1/2/4 5 3
Family sharing 7 6 5 1/3/4 1/2/4 2 2
Contract No No No No No No No
Movies and TV shows 1,800+ 50 4,200+ 2,000+ 10,000+ hours 3,400+ 5,800+
HD Yes Yes No/Yes/Yes No/Yes/Yes No/Yes/Yes Yes Yes
4K Yes Yes No/No/Yes No/No/Yes No/No/No No Yes
Can watch offline? Yes Yes Yes Yes No No Yes
Devices PC, Mac, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, PS4, Xbox One, Apple TV, Fetch TV, Chromecast, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Telstra TV, smart TVs (LG, Samsung, FFALCON, Philips, Sony, Hisense, Kogan, TCL, Toshiba, Panasonic) Mac, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Samsung TVs, AirPlay PC, Mac, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, PS4, Xbox One, Apple TV, Fetch TV, Chromecast, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Vodafone TV, Telstra TV, smart TVs (LG, Hisense, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung, Sony) PC, Mac, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, PS4, Xbox One, Apple TV, Fetch TV, Chromecast, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Telstra TV, smart TVs (LG, Samsung, FFALCON, Philips, Sony, Hisense, Kogan, TCL, Toshiba, Panasonic) PC, Mac, iOS, Android, Chromecast, Telstra TV, Android TV, Apple TV PC, Mac, iOS, Android, PS4, Xbox One, Chromecast, Telstra TV, smart TVs (LG, Samsung, Sony), Foxtel Now box PC, Mac, iOS, Android, PS4, Xbox One, Apple TV, Chromecast, Nvidia Shield, Telstra TV, Amazon Fire TV/Tablet, Echo Show/Spot, smart TVs (LG, Samsung, Sony, Hisense, Philips, Sharp, JVC, Panasonic)
More info Disney+ info Apple TV+ info Netflix info Stan info BINGE info Foxtel info Amazon Prime info

Is Disney+ worth it?

Summary: Yes... yes it is.

Disney+ is a competitively priced, perfectly functional portal into the library of Disney content. Its library of classics dates back to the 1930s but after a slow start, that library is set to swell with a consistent run of new exclusives into 2021 and beyond.

Originally, I suggested in this very review that "if you're not a super Star Wars fan desperate for The Mandalorian, or a parent with needy kids seeking holiday entertainment, you need not feel compelled to dive into Disney+ straight away." But my impression has changed. The arrival of the Star channel's wealth of mature content has made Disney+ a service for everyone.

There's still not enough brand new exclusive content appearing on Disney+, at least not compared with BINGE, Netflix and Amazon Prime. But it's getting better. And the legacy content is so damn good it's not hard to watch it again even if it's for the 10th time.

You'll get your value for money with Disney+, but it may not quite offer enough just yet to make you cut some of your other services from your bill.

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