Disney’s streaming service, Disney+, has just launched in the U.S., Canada, and the Netherlands, which means it’s finally time to ask the inevitable question: How does the Mega Mouse’s streaming service compare to the other—or at least most of the other—major streaming services out there? To answer that question, here’s a breakdown of Disney+’s quality (a term used very loosely) relative to Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go (or HBO NOW), Apple TV+, and Amazon Prime.
And yes, we’re well aware that a lot of this analysis will ultimately be subjective for viewers, but having some basic information to reference still seems helpful when determining whether or not Disney+ is right for you.
— Disney+ (@disneyplus) November 12, 2019
How Disney+’s User Interface (UI) Stacks Up
While Disney+ is one of the latest newcomers to the streaming service party, we think it has, as of this writing, the best user interface. It’s obviously difficult to grade user interfaces, as everybody has different feelings of what is and isn’t intuitive, but hot diggity has Disney learned a lot of lessons from already established players.
In regards to functionality, Disney+’s user interface is extremely easy to pick up, with categorization of content, control over the playback of series/films, and assemblage of lists of what to watch next all working seamlessly. Dividing up content into five major categories by brand—including Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic—is also a genius way to help users sift through all of the platform’s offerings. And while other major platforms occasionally offer the same type of categorization to some extent (there’s a Netflix Originals category on Netflix, for example), Disney+’s division strategy is clearly the most comprehensive and straightforward.
A look at the way Disney+ breaks down its content offerings by brand.
Disney+ also doesn’t autoplay trailers for its shows/films like Netflix does, which, somewhat incidentally, is a feature internet denizens seem to want the latter streaming service to drop immediately. (Really, who out there enjoys scrolling through Netflix and having every trailer play one after the other with sound?) Disney+ also does a better job of displaying a greater number of titles in a more uncluttered way than the other services. (This is obviously device- and view-dependent, however.)
The visual layout of Disney+’s UI is also the best. The titles on HBO Go, for example, are flat rectangles that are almost completely sans stylization. Disney+’s titles, on the other hand, are all rectangles with rounded corners and some “pop” off the background of the page, which makes them seem like enjoyably clickable buttons (Steve Jobs would be oh so proud of those rounded corners). Disney+’s UI is also less busy than Amazon Prime’s, although to be fair to A.P., it does have buyable/rentable titles on its content library page, as well as sections for live and upcoming events.
A look at Netflix’s user interface, which is more cluttered and less aesthetically appealing than that of Disney+.
Hulu is probably the runner-up to Disney+, which actually just means even more points for Disney considering the fact that the mega corporation is the majority stakeholder in the streaming service.
In regards to the user interface for Apple TV+, that doesn’t even seem worth mentioning at this point, as the service doesn’t really have one. We signed up for a free trial of Apple+ to help inform this article, and the service apparently only currently offers less than a dozen pieces of content; all of them are stacked on top of each other, and each one of the titles takes up nearly the entire page as you scroll.
How Disney+’s Library Stacks Up
Even though user interfaces matter, content is king and the real draw for any one of these services is obviously what libraries they have to offer. There are two major issues with deciding how Disney+’s library compares to the other streaming services, however. The first: all the streaming services’ libraries are in constant flux—shrinking and growing and adding new original content. The second: the super-subjective nature of art. That is what all of this content boils down to after all, right?
In terms of sheer numbers, Disney+ seems to slot below Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu, but above HBO Go and Apple+. Things get really sketchy here, however, because not only are streaming services’ libraries in constant flux, but, as mentioned, Hulu is owned by Disney; subsequently, there is a Hulu/Disney+/ESPN+ package that needs to be considered in its own right.
Amazon Prime offers far more content than Disney+, but is also nearly double the price.
When comparing library sizes, ballpark estimates will have to suffice. According to the website, Cord Cutting, as of May, 2019, Netflix offered 5,087 titles (including both TV series and films) in the U.S.; Variety said that Hulu had 3,588 TV series and 6,656 movies in its library as of 2016; Amazon Prime offered 18,405 movies and 1,981 TV shows according to the same 2016 Variety article; HBO NOW currently has 194 TV series and at least 61 movies (according to numbers provided by Google searches); Disney+ has roughly 500 movies and 7,500 episodes of TV according to Vulture, and Apple TV+ has… wait for it… fewer than 12 shows and movies currently available.
We all know that quality often trumps quantity, so these figures won’t necessarily matter for most people anyway. But if we have to compare Disney+ to its competitors, we’ll slot it in exactly where it does in terms of sheer number of hours of content offered. Which would put it somewhere in the middle of the pack, although certainly above Apple TV+ (everything is really above Apple TV+ at this point though).
The Hulu/Disney+/ESPN+ bundle offers the best assortment of animated content.
There is one unquestionable caveat here, however, and that is in regards to the Hulu/Disney+/ESPN+ package and its offering of animated content. Subscribers to that package have access to The Simpsons, Futurama, Bob’s Burgers, Archer, Rick and Morty, American Dad!, The Cleveland Show, The Venture Bros., King of the Hill, Family Guy, The Boondocks, and South Park, not to mention all of the animated movies from Pixar and Disney. So all you fans of animation, we can say unequivocally that this is the package for you.
How Price of Disney+ Stacks Up
Finally, when comparing Disney+ to the other major streaming services, we have to take into account pricing. And thankfully, unlike user interfaces and available content libraries, this is (almost) perfectly straightforward. Here’s a quick breakdown:
$12.99/mo for standard Netflix
$6.99/mo for Disney+
$11.99/mo for Hulu
$12.99/mo for Hulu/Disney+/ESPN+ bundle
$12.99/mo for Amazon Prime
$14.99/mo for HBO NOW
$4.99/mo for Apple TV+
Now, keep in mind that there are different tiers for some of these services — Netflix offers a “basic” version ($8.99/mo) that’s cheaper than the standard version, for example, but we didn’t include it in this list because you can’t use it to stream in high definition (you can only stream on one screen at a time with that option as well). We also ignored the cheaper version of Hulu ($5.99/mo), because that requires users to watch ads, and nobody needs that in their life.
All in all, when it comes to pricing, we’ll go ahead and award Disney+ as the winner because while it doesn’t offer the best content/price ratio — that title would probably go to Amazon Prime — it is nearly half the cost of the other services. And even though Apple TV+ is cheaper, it’s so limited at this point, it may not even be worth the $5/month.
A look at Apple TV+’s content page, which only has several shows on it as of this writing. Apple
Final Thoughts on How Disney+ Stacks Up
Considering all of the pros and cons of the various major streaming services listed here, it appears that Disney+ makes an extraordinarily compelling case for subtracting some of your hard-earned bucks from your wallet on a monthly basis. Not only is Disney’s streaming service significantly cheaper than most of the other ones, but it’s also easier to use and more visually satisfying. Disney+ also has The Mandalorian, which is off to a great start.
What may actually be the overall best deal out of any current option for Disney lovers, however, is that Hulu/Disney+/ESPN+ bundle for $12.99/month. For less than double the monthly cost of Disney+, that bundle balloons overall content offerings, and even gives access to a lot of sports broadcasts (albeit not the most popular ones). That animation lineup is so stacked too that it could probably last most viewers up until HBO Max launches next year with 10,000 more hours of content.
What do you think of how Disney+ stacks up against the other major streaming services? Do you think Disney has found the sweet spot for price-to-content ratio or are you happy living without Disney+? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!
Feature image: Disney