Disney Plus is still three months away from launching, but the Disney streaming service is already starting to take shape in contrast to Netflix. Disney Plus' $7-a-month subscription will include four simultaneous streams; videos with 4K, UHD and High Dynamic Range picture quality; and seven different user profiles, all at no extra cost. (And, yes, you get to pick a favorite Disney character to be the avatar for your profile.)
Disney will release new episodes of its original series weekly, rather than dropping an entire season at once, according to interviews with executives. They spoke to CNET and gave a live demo of the service at Disney's biennial superfan convention, the D23 Expo in Anaheim, California.
Netflix, on the other hand, pioneered the binge-streaming model of releasing all episodes of a series in one big bunch. But the service allows only five profiles, and subscribers must pay for its highest-price tier of service to unlock four simultaneous streams and 4K/HDR.
When Disney revealed in April that its service would cost $7 a month, most people compared that price to the $13 monthly fee for Netflix's most popular plan in the US, which lets you stream to two different devices simultaneously in high definition. But the features in Disney Plus are closer to those in Netflix's premium tier, which costs $16 a month in the US. That's more than double the price of Disney Plus.
Disney Plus, set to launch Nov. 12, is the highest-profile example of traditional Hollywood digging in to compete in streaming against the likes of Netflix, Amazon and -- soon -- Apple. With tech giants pouring money into their own TV shows and movies and luring consumers away from traditional pay TV, Disney is aiming to create a single streaming hub for all its family-friendly content. Disney CEO Bob Iger has called Disney Plus nothing less than the future of the Walt Disney Co.
"Is there some pressure? Of course," Michael Paull, the president of Disney streaming services, said in an interview. "But that's the way I like it."
Amazon, password sharing, parental controls
Paull, a former Amazon executive, addressed how Amazon and its popular Fire TV streaming products were missing Monday from a list of devices that would be able to stream Disney Plus.
"What we put out on Monday really was the list of devices that we have deals with currently, but we expect that we will expand that list between now and launch," Paull said. He also said deals with device makers will include more than just support for Disney Plus apps -- they'll include promotion in interfaces and other merchandising, like Roku remotes having a dedicated Disney Plus button.
Disney said it'll be monitoring for red flags of password-sharing abuse, but Paull said the company didn't have any plans he could share about enforcement for abusive password sharing.
"We recognize that it's a product for the entire family, and we want the entire family to be able to use the product simultaneously," he said. "In my mind, whether it's in the household or not, I want everyone in the household to be able to use the service at the same time. I want them to really get value."
The demo of Disney Plus also gave a fuller picture of parental controls. The streaming service will have a "kids mode" designed for children 7 years old and younger. The mode has a more colorful interface, with bigger icons, fewer written words and more graphics.
But at launch, Disney Plus won't have PIN protection that can prevent young users from switching from a kids-mode profile back to one with the standard interface. PIN-based parental controls are on Disney's roadmap, and Paull noted that the most mature content on Disney Plus only goes up to a PG-13 rating.
Originally published Aug. 23.
Update, Aug. 24: Adds further details, along with comments from executives.