Of all the technology battles shaping up in 2020, few might be as anticipated as Netflix vs. Disney Plus. It’s one streaming titan versus a high-profile newcomer with enough hype to put even the most high profile sporting event to shame. Arriving in late November of last year, Disney came out swinging with an attractive price point and an unrivaled legacy of big-name content. Is that enough to dethrone Netflix? Let’s take a look and see which company you should subscribe to first.
If this entire contest came down to only price, there is no question Disney would be the clear winner. At $6.99 a month, Disney is two dollars cheaper than Netflix’s least inexpensive plan. Wait, the Disney price advantage gets even better. For its single price point, Disney offers ad-free streaming of all of its content with unlimited downloads on up to four devices simultaneously.
On the other hand, Netflix’s entry-level price point is only good for one screen at a time in standard definition. Video downloads only work on one device or tablet at a time. To get more screen time on Netflix, you need to jump to their $12.99 or premium monthly plan at $15.99 to get two or four screens simultaneously.
When it comes to being everywhere your customers are, Disney Plus was not playing games right at launch. Subscribers can access the streaming platform on Android and iOS devices including the iPad and Android tablets. Both Apple TV and Android TV can play host to Disney TV as can Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Roku TVs have support for Disney as a downloadable app and with Chromecast support baked into the app, users can stream to any Google Cast-connected TV. Select Samsung and LG smart TVs have a Disney Plus app built in as well.
On the other hand, Netflix has a years-long head start on device compatibility. Head over to their dedicated landing page, and you’ll see a lengthy list of products that can play host to your Netflix binging. Like Disney Plus, Android and iOS are supported, as are Fire TV, Apple TV and Roku. Chromecast and NVIDIA Shield are also available along with a full suite of gaming consoles. Nearly every Smart TV has Netflix built in these days and even Blu-ray players come with Netflix right out of the box.
Disney adhered to the old “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” approach with its streaming app. There is nothing unique about its tiled approach. In fact, it’s somewhat similar to what one would find with Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Showtime, etc. Click into the search box and you’ll have an option to search for movies, shows, originals, etc. A tab for downloaded content also appears when you use the Android or iOS app. Overall, Disney Plus makes discovering content easy and straightforward with its premium launch titles front and center upon launching the app. While not unique, it just works.
Netflix has had its share of experiments with user interfaces over the years for better or worse. The current design has been around for some time, and for better or worse, doesn’t seem to have too many detractors. That said, the autoplaying videos for its original or net content is hit or miss depending on whom you ask. The “continue watching” row is a fan favorite, though it often serves to remind us just how much content we have left to watch. Perhaps the biggest reason to vote for Netflix here is its categorical breakdown of comedies, documentaries, action, drama, etc. For that reason alone, Netflix is the winner.
In the end, it’s all about the content. It really comes down to what you want out of a streaming service. Ultimately, Disney Plus is really all about the strength of its back catalog and Disney favorites that have been around for decades. The inclusion of nearly all Marvel, Star Wars and Pixar movies is more than enough to attract users to its platform.
Thanks to The Mandalorian, Disney has already shown at just how good its original shows and movies will be. The promise of a dozen or so Marvel and Star Wars originals premiering over the coming years all but guarantees new users will sign up for years to come. Also available will be the Fox TV and movie catalog thanks to Disney’s purchase of 20th Century Fox.
Netflix, on the other hand, has already shown it can mix and match both original content and a deep catalog of historical favorites. While it recently lost Friends and The Office, Netflix knows how to produce original content that is immediately popular. Shows like “Orange Is the New Black,” “Stranger Things” and “The Witcher” are just some of the examples. Original movies like “Marriage Story” and “The Irishmen” are Oscar-nominated performances, and that’s just from their 2019 lineup. Netflix’s existing content catalog hovers just below 4,000 movies and over 1,800 TV shows according to Finder.com. That’s dramatically larger than Disney’s 650+ movies and TV shows combined.
Winner: Netflix (for now)
Based on all of these factors and assuming you can only pick one service, right now your hard-earned money should go toward Netflix. It pains me to say that as a dedicated Star Wars fan, but even for the higher price tag, you just get so much more that can be watched in so many more places. However, Disney Plus is hardly falling down. With its original content ramping up over the next 24 to 36 months, the competition between these two services is going to be well worth watching. Someone grab the popcorn.