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Disney+ streaming service: Release date, price, shows and movies to expect

Disney's getting ready to give Netflix a run for its money. Will it be worth it?

Marvel Studios 2018, artist: Ryan Meinerding

Disney is betting big on its 2019 streaming service called Disney+. 

With Disney CEO Bob Iger calling the streaming service the company's "biggest priority" for 2019, the company is ending its streaming deal with Netflix so it can launch its own service as the exclusive streaming home for Disney movies, TV shows and other original programming. 

Most of the programming planned for Disney+ leans into the company's franchises like Marvel and Star Wars. Captain Marvel, the Brie Larson superhero flick coming to theaters in March, will be the first of its films to stream on Disney+ rather than Netflix. 

If you're feeling monthly fee fatigue, sorry, but that's the direction the entertainment business is headed. Netflix trots out original shows and movies on a near daily basis. CBS is pumping its CBS All Access service full of Star Trek shows and other original programs. (Editors' note: CBS is CNET's parent company.)  NBCUniversal, HBO-owner WarnerMedia and Apple are all building their own streaming services. Even DC Entertainment now has its DC Universe streaming service full of shows, movies and comics.

And then there's Hulu, which will be controlled by Disney after its acquisition of 21st Century Fox. Once Disney+ launches, you'll need to remember to subscribe to Hulu too if you want Disney's edgier material, like four planned Marvel cartoons aimed at adults. Disney+ is where all the company's family-friendly content will live. 

So is the 2019 Disney+ streaming service something worth paying for? The details that we know so far are below, but basically: If you love Star Wars or Marvel movies, you may find yourself considering yet another subscription before the year is out.

On Nov. 8, Disney announced a Star Wars prequel series based on Rogue One and starring Diego Luna, who played Cassian Andor in the original movie. Disney also confirmed the service is developing a live-action Marvel series focused on Loki, a character from the Avengers, which will star Tom Hiddleston reprising the role.  Also, the Marvel Defenders shows Netflix has cancelled -- like Daredevil and Luke Cage -- could be revived for Disney+.   

Now playing: Watch this: Disney cuts the cord with Netflix

What's the Disney streaming service?

Disney+ streaming service will be a competitor to video streaming services like Netflix. Customers will be able to subscribe with a still-unannounced monthly fee to get access to TV shows, movies and other content from the world of Disney. 

Disney's other streaming services -- Hulu and sports-focused ESPN+--will run on the same tech platform so you can subscribe to them with the same password and credit card info. But Disney plans for all three to be individual subscriptions. 

ESPN+ will, clearly, focus on sports. Hulu is expected to continue to stream content from three of the broadcast networks and its own original series, like The Handmaid's Tale and Castle Rock. Hulu will also be where Disney streams its more adult-oriented fare. It's where a new Marvel collection of grown-up animated series will stream, and it's like where Deadpool-like content will live once Disney takes over Fox. 

Disney+ is supposed to include all of Disney's family-friendly fare. It'll have content from Disney proper, Marvel, Lucasfilm (so: Star Wars), Pixar and National Geographic.

When's the release date? 

You'll be waiting even longer than Avengers 4 for this. Disney says it's shooting for a release in late 2019. 

The company is expected to reveal many of the specifics about Disney+ on April 11, when it'll hold an investor meeting to detail all its streaming plans, including a "first look" at Disney+ and some of the programming it's producing for it.

How much will it cost?

Disney hasn't yet announced pricing for its streaming service, but expect it to cost less than Netflix

Iger said in November 2017 that his company's service price will reflect the "fact that it will have substantially less volume" but plans to make up for it with high-quality programming from across its entertainment empire. More than a year later, however, Iger said the company still hadn't decided what it'll charge. 


The Clone Wars is getting a new season, exclusively on Disney's upcoming streaming service.

Video screenshot by Bonnie Burton/CNET

How will this affect Disney stuff on Netflix?

Disney will mostly disappear from Netflix by late 2019. 

Since 2016, Netflix has been the first place to watch Disney's movies with a subscription. That deal meant Netflix was the go-to place for the biggest US blockbusters of the last three years. The top two movies of 2017 and the top three movies of 2016 and 2018 were all from Disney, and Netflix has been the place to binge them all. 

But Disney decided against renewing that Netflix deal as it plotted its own competitor. Starting with Disney's 2019 slate of movies, all those films are destined for Disney+. That means Captain Marvel, the first movie Disney is releasing theatrically in 2019, will be the first movie Netflix misses out on. 

Netflix's Marvel Defenders shows are complicated, though. Netflix has put out five original series based on Defenders characters in partnership in with Disney. In 2018, Netflix canceled three of them: Daredevil, Luke Cage and Iron Fist. Kevin Mayer, the Disney executive in charge of Disney+, has said Disney+ could possibly revive the canceled shows. But the terms of their original deal could restrict Disney+ from any revivals until 2020, according to a report. 

At the same time, Netflix still has subsequent seasons of other Defenders series -- Jessica Jones and The Punisher -- set to come out in 2019. So some of the Defenders gang is staying at Netflix for the time being.

Shows and movies: What will I be able to watch?

Disney plans to make Disney+ the catch-all for its family-friendly content, while Hulu -- which Disney will control after its takeover of 21st Century Fox -- will be its subscription for edgier, more adult-oriented fare. Disney+ will be the only place you can stream all of Disney's theatrically released movies starting with its 2019 slate. That includes content from the Disney brand itself, Marvel, Pixar, Star Wars and National Geographic. In fact, it's organizing the service's app by those exact categories.  

In addition to live-action shows and movies, animation is supposed to be "integral" to Disney+, Iger has said. Disney+ will have original behind-the-scenes documentaries, too. Out of the vast library of Disney's past catalog, Disney+ is supposed to offer "thousands of hours" of content, but we don't know yet exactly what will be included.  

The company also has started to make deals for original programming that doesn't already fall into one of its established brands. In January, Disney+ ordered a 10-episode series called Diary of a Female President. The show follows a 12-year-old Cuban-American girl and the highs and lows of her middle-school life en route to becoming the US commander in chief.

Even though all of Disney's movies will stream exclusively on Disney+, the company doesn't plan to debut any of its big-budget motion pictures, like those in its Star Wars franchise, on the service. Unlike Netflix's so-called day-and-date approach, which releases most of its films on big screens and on its streaming service at the same time, Disney plans to let its tentpole movies run their course in theaters before making them available with a Disney+ digital subscription. 

We do know the service will include shows and movies such as: 

  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars new season (exclusive to this service).
  • Marvel movies, starting with 2019's Captain Marvel.
  • Star Wars films, starting with 2019's Episode 9.
  • Pixar films, starting with 2019's Toy Story 4.
  • A live-action, big-budget Star Wars TV series called The Mandalorian, being developed by Jon Favreau.
  • A Star Wars Rogue One prequel TV series, starring Diego Luna.
  • A live-action Marvel series focused on Avengers character Loki, starring Tom Hiddleston. 
  • Possible Marvel series that could star Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), according to Variety.
  • Possible Marvel series that would team up Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) and Sam Wilson, aka Falcon (Anthony Mackie), according to Slashfilm.
  • An animated series based on Pixar's Monsters Inc.
  • A 10-episode series, Diary of a Female President, about a 12-year-old Cuban-American girl.
  • A documentary about Walt Disney Imagineering.
  • A Timmy Failure film directed by Spotlight's Tom McCarthy.
  • A live-action Lady and the Tramp remake.
  • A Sword in the Stone remake.
  • Noelle, a movie starring Anna Kendrick.
  • Togo, a sled dog movie starring Willem Dafoe.
  • A Three Men and a Baby remake.
  • The Paper Magician film.
  • A Stargirl film.
  • A High School Musical series.
  • A possible Muppets series.

What shows and movies do you want to appear on Disney's streaming service? Pop them into the comments section and we'll keep updating this post with more information as it becomes available.

This piece was first published Aug. 27, 2018, and is updated as more news arrives.

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