Why Disney Plus is worth the price -- for now

Where else are you going to for Marvel, Star Wars, Frozen and The Simpsons?

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
Expertise Films | TV | Movies | Television | Technology
Richard Trenholm
4 min read
Marvel Studios 2018, artist: Ryan Meinerding

Let's face it, Disney Plus is a no-brainer. It's got a bunch of new Marvel and Star Wars shows, it's got Frozen 2, it's got The Simpsons -- and it's only seven bucks a month.

Disney revealed the $7 price for its forthcoming streaming service, along with a Nov. 12 launch date, at a splashy industry event on Thursday. Attendees also heard more about the exclusive Star Wars and Marvel shows that'll only be available on Disney Plus, although one of the biggest reactions from the audience was for the announcement that every episode of The Simpsons will be available too.

This isn't an official review or final word on the subject, because we don't know what the service will actually look like. But so far, I'm sold.

I'm loath to cheerlead for a faceless conglomerate gobbling up your favorite stuff and siloing it in a money-making machine, but I have to admit that Disney Plus puts the spotlight where it should be: the content. That's media-speak for stories -- like the brand-new Star Wars shows The Mandalorian and the Rogue One prequel; Marvel's Loki series starring Tom Hiddleston, a Falcon and Winter Soldier live-action show with Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan from the Avengers movies, or WandaVision with Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany; and Pixar series Monsters at Work, returning to the world of Monsters Inc.

Yup, so many beloved stories and characters and brands are owned by  Disney  that if you had to choose just one streaming service... Disney Plus could well be it.

Can Netflix , Amazon Prime  or Apple TV Plus really say that?

Watch this: Everything we know about Disney Plus
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The Mandalorian, one of the exclusive new shows on Disney Plus.


Netflix and Amazon  had a headstart in filling their services with prestigious and popular exclusive content, from House of Cards and Transparent to Stranger Things to Oscar winners Roma and Manchester By The Sea. And even if you're not hooked on Queer Eye or After Life, Netflix in particular has a million other shiny new things spewing out of the content pipe.

But Disney has Marvel. Star Wars. Frozen. The frickin' Simpsons!

Among the other players, Apple should be worried about Disney Plus. Apple is seriously late to the party, recently unveiling its much-heralded streaming service, Apple TV Plus, with a galaxy of stars trumpeting a cavalcade of content. And it was booooorrrriing. Everybody's tastes are different, but I'm certain I'm not alone in being underwhelmed by Apple's initial lineup of shows. Nothing has yet grabbed the public imagination. Admittedly Apple has a few shows still in the back pocket, such as the sci-fi epic Foundation, but so far it's shy a Game of Thrones, a Russian Doll or even a Jack Ryan

Disney's late, too, but it doesn't matter. Announcing the new service, Disney bosses didn't need to wheel Steven Spielberg and Oprah on stage for a livestreamed song-and-dance. They just invited in a few investors and said, hey guys. Marvel. Star Wars. Frozen. Simpsons. Seven bucks.

Then Mickey Mouse dropped the mic and moonwalked off stage.

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Of course, no self-respecting telly addict wants to have just one streaming service. Disney might have The Mandalorian, Captain Marvel , Frozen 2 and the rest, but there's still your other favorite superheroes on DC Universe. There's still Star Trek and The Twilight Zone on CBS All Access (Disclosure: CBS is CNET's parent company). And there's always the latest thing everyone's going wild about on Netflix. Not to mention Hulu Britbox -- the list goes on.

But for $7 a month, Disney Plus could leave some change in the budget for one or two other streaming services in all but the most squeezed households. Ultimately, though, Disney Plus silos superheroes and princesses in one place, and if you can't afford it, well, too bad, kids -- no Frozen for you.

Disney also promises Hulu and ESPN bundled in with your Disney Plus subscription, which means the kids can watch Frozen while the grownups get stuck in The Handmaid's Tale and your sport of choice. As someone who's expecting my first child in a matter of weeks, that looks like a pretty attractive way to spend seven bucks.

Speaking of the price, it's worth noting a very, very big caveat from Disney's announcement. That cheerful $7 fee? It's only an initial price. Which means not only do I need to start saving for my unborn child's college fund, like, yesterday, but I also need to brace myself for the subscription hikes you just know are coming.

Although I can't help wondering if my daughter is going to grow up in some kind of Disneyfied cultural hegemony, where all entertainment is fed directly into her neural lattice from a giant transmitter beaming from the Cinderella Castle on the moon. Sorry, kid, the whole world is Disneyworld. But my love, my darling, my precious angel, you have to understand: They had the whole of The Simpsons for seven bucks! 

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