Disney Plus Australia: Price, content, comparison and features
Here's how Disney’s streaming service works and everything you can watch using it.
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Disney+ is a streaming service operated by entertainment giant Disney. Consider it the Mouse House's response to platforms like Netflix, Stan and Apple TV+. The online service gives users access to a generous library of TV shows and movies from the Disney catalogue, as well as titles from Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar and National Geographic.
Disney first announced plans for its own streaming service back in 2017. Disney+ then launched in Australia on 19 November 2019, just a week after it debuted in the USA, Canada and the Netherlands.
It's growing with each passing month, regularly adding new titles to its library. Highlights include original show The Mandalorian, WandaVision and long-running series The Simpsons, as well as several other Marvel and Star Wars blockbusters.
Disney+ Australia price
Subscriptions to Disney+ in Australia cost $11.99 a month or $119.99 for an entire year. Both packages give you the exact same offering in terms of content, simultaneous streams and devices.
Does that price sound higher than you remember? If so you'd be correct. The price of Disney+ increased on 23 February 2021 due to the addition of new channel Star to the platform. Disney+ formerly cost $8.99 monthly or $89.999 per year. The 23 February, price rise resulted in an increase by $3 per month or $30 a year.
In a November 2018 earnings call, Disney chairman Bob Iger outlined the company's plans to expand Hulu's availability to more countries once the purchase of Fox was finalised. On 11 December 2020, Disney+ announced that it would be adding Star to the platform on 23 February 2021.
For now, Star looks to be the closest thing to Hulu that countries outside of the US can get. It won't be a separate service, it will be a hub within the platform, just like Marvel and National Geographic.
Originally, Disney+ was family-focused, but the arrival of the Star channel adds over 600 movies and TV shows for adults as well. We expect Star to largely mirror what Hulu is in America in terms of content.
This means the likes of Deadpool, Grey's Anatomy, Family Guy, Aliens and Die Hard, to name a few, will be on Disney+. Star has even got its own new shows coming, including one with the Kardashians and Jenners.
All existing subscribers will automatically get access to Star. However, it's important to remember since Star joined the platform, the subscription price increased. So rather than $8.99 per month or $89.99 a year, Disney+ now costs $11.99 monthly or $119.99 annually.
Disney+ free trial
Although there was initially a seven-day free trial at launch, this is no longer the case. As of 19 June 2020, Disney+ has removed the offer. Since then, it's offered a free trial through Woolworths Rewards and now a 30-day offer through Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.
The easiest way to create a Disney+ account is via the official website. To sign up to Disney+, all you'll need is an email address plus your debit or credit card. Register for an account, drop in your card details and you'll be good to start watching.
If you're looking for a different way to sign up, then you may want to purchase a Disney+ gift subscription. There's currently no option to get anything other than an annual gift card. To purchase one, head to the Disney+ gift subscription page.
Disney+ shows and movies
Disney is investing heavily in original content for Disney+. This echoes what competitors Netflix and Amazon are already doing. To begin with, the company will rely on established brands instead of exploring new avenues, but its focus will change as time goes on.
Indeed the arrival of the Star channel in February 2021 will bring with it four Star Originals, with more coming in the future. These TV shows are exclusive to Disney+.
On the TV front, Disney+ offers hours of Disney Channel programming, but also original productions made especially for the streaming service. The list features Star Wars spin-off The Mandalorian, which became an international hit shortly after its release. Subscribers can even binge-watch 30 seasons of popular animated series The Simpsons.
On the movie front, Disney+ is becoming the exclusive streaming destination for all titles under the Disney umbrella. Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame, for instance, were available at launch, with remakes of The Lion King and Aladdin joining the platform in January 2020 and Frozen 2 not long after.
The catalogue also includes hundreds of animated titles from the Disney Vault, as well as Marvel, Star Wars and Pixar films. Disney+ has even secured the likes of Broadway musical Hamilton and The Greatest Showman.
Disney+ upcoming content
During an investors call in December 2020, Disney+ laid out plans for 10 new Marvel and 10 new Star Wars series.
The Marvel expansion came first with WandaVision on 15 January 2021. Following WandaVision is The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. Originally rumoured to premiere in August 2020, it was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic and instead will now be released on 19 March 2021.
Other Marvel series on the way include Loki in May 2021 and Hawkeye also in 2021, as well as What If…, Ms. Marvel and She-Hulk, all coming at a future time.
On the Star Wars side of things, there will be several series including Andor starring Rogue One's Diego Luna, Obi-Wan Kenobi, as well as spin-offs from The Mandalorian titled Ahsoka and Rangers of the New Republic.
It isn't all Star Wars and Marvel on the agenda either. Cars, Moana, Zootopia and Big Hero 6 will all be getting either a TV series or a spin-off. Another new series coming 26 March is The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers, which stars the Ducks' original coach Gordon Bombay.
Then of course on 23 February 2021, the arrival of the Star channel brings with it over 600 movies and TV series. Star will be more focused on mature and adult content. Highlights include Deadpool, Logan, Grey's Anatomy, Black-ish, Prison Break, 24, Die Hard and Bob's Burgers.
You can see the full Disney+ 2020-2023 release schedule here.
How to watch Disney+
Disney+ can be viewed in a few different ways. You can watch on your laptop/desktop computer by accessing the website or download the app on iOS and Android devices. There is also an app for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 and Xbox One game consoles.
On the big screen, you can use Apple TV, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV Stick or Android TV to stream from another device. Some Samsung and LG TVs also have built-in Disney+ support. All content on Disney+ is in HD.
You can stream on up to four devices at once. Unlike Netflix, Disney+ isn't charging extra for the ability to watch on multiple screens. Parents will be happy to know you can set up a Kids Profile to ensure your children don't see any inappropriate material.
- Multiple profiles. Disney+ allows up to four concurrent streams, which means that more users can watch at the same time using only one account. On that note, you can create separate profiles for everyone, so that each user can curate their own watch list and keep track of the content they're most interested in. You can also choose a Disney character for a profile picture.
- Offline viewing. Disney+ allows you to download shows and movies on mobile devices to enjoy on the go without burning through your mobile data. All titles are available for download, unlike Netflix and Stan where some titles (especially non-originals) aren't. Additionally, there's no limit to how many downloads you can have, other than the storage capacity of your device.
- Accessibility features. The streaming service offers a variety of accessibility options, including closed captioning, audio descriptions, text-to-speech support, colour contrast, responsive design and keyboard navigations. Availability of closed captioning and audio descriptions varies by language. Thanks to Disney+ being a global streaming service, you'll find content available in multiple languages. For example, in Australia, The Mandalorian is available in English, Deutsch, Espanol, Francais, Italiano, Japanese and Polski.
- 4K, Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision. The majority of the library is in 4K Ultra HD and HDR. There's also content that comes with 5.1 Surround Sound and Dolby Atmos and content that supports the Dolby Vision standard. More titles are continually having their quality upgraded. Keep in mind that you'll need a compatible device and a high-speed Internet connection to enjoy these features.
- Kids Profile. Disney+ lets you set up a special Kids Profile that only shows titles rated G and PG in Australia. You can set it up as you would a normal profile – just make sure you check the Kids Profile box when setting the profile name.
- Ability to request shows/movies. While the Disney+ content library is pretty comprehensive, some shows and movies from the Disney catalogue are still missing. If you can't find your favourite title, you can request it to be added by accessing the Help Section and using the Give Feedback feature.
- GroupWatch. On 1 October 2020, Disney+ rolled out its GroupWatch feature in Australia. This allows you to watch and react to the same show with up to six different friends at once. It can be used to help you create your own virtual watch party. You can see a detailed breakdown of GroupWatch here.
Disney+ Premier Access
Since the global coronavirus pandemic, Disney has moved several of its cinematic releases straight to Disney+. Some of the titles that have received this treatment include Artemis Fowl, Mulan and Soul.
Premier Access is for titles that you can watch via Disney+ but require an additional payment. Disney+ first introduced Premier Access for the remake of Mulan. It cost $34.99 to watch but also required you to have an active Disney+ subscription. Once purchased, you're able to watch the Premier Access title as many times as you like.
Disney+ will also be going down this road with its new film Raya and the Last Dragon, which is being released on 5 March 2021. The film will be available on Disney+ for $34.99 and be released in cinemas at the same time.
There's no other way to access these titles on Disney+ without paying up or waiting for it to be added to the rest of the library. For Mulan, this took three months.
How does Disney+ compare to Netflix, Stan, Foxtel and others?
Despite joining an increasingly crowded marketplace, Disney+ stacks up really well. When comparing it to other premium streaming services that offer 4K and multiple devices, Disney+ currently costs significantly less than the likes of Stan and Netflix. The only two streaming services cheaper than Disney+ before the price rise are Prime Video and Apple TV+.
The interfaces for Netflix, Stan and Disney+ are similar, but Disney may have an advantage due to its simplicity. As Disney+ sorts its content via brands such as National Geographic and Pixar, it's easier to navigate than Netflix or Stan.
Disney also has the benefit of owning the rights to its own content, which spelled disaster for Foxtel and Stan on the day that Disney+ launched. In the future, Disney+ is likely to continue taking back its content from the other services.
Our verdict on Disney+
So far in Australia, Disney+ has gone off without a hitch. Its price is phenomenal when compared to its competitors. What it lacked in content to begin with, it made up for in quality, with new originals.
Add in the fact Disney+ will only improve as more originals, big 2021 exclusive releases and Star (essentially Hulu) make it to the platform.
But maybe more importantly, it hosts content from Disney's subsidiaries Marvel, Lucasfilm, Fox Studios and National Geographic. These are some of the biggest media franchises in the world, so it's obvious that the Force will continue to be strong for Disney+.
The removal of the free trial hasn't seemed to affect consumers' willingness to test out the platform, as it has now grown to over 95 million subscribers. And once some adult content joins the platform in February 2021, we're expecting it to be a common subscription service in most households.
If you have ever considered getting Disney+ or you like what Star will bring, there has never been a better time to sign up. Signing up by 22 February can save you $30.
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