Just like seemingly everything else Disney does, from Avengers: Endgame to Rise of Skywalker to Galaxy's Edge to Rise of the Resistance, its new streaming service is a phenomenon.  Disney Plus launched on Nov. 12 and quickly amassed more than 10 million subscribers. Its marquee original series, The Mandalorian, has already given fans Baby Yoda theoriesmerchandise and memes. And its success has Netflix and other big names in streaming taking notes. Not bad for $6.99 a month.

Disney Plus

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Like

  • Affordable at $7 per month or $70 per year.
  • Exclusive streaming home to Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar and other Disney properties.
  • Sleek, well-designed app available on most streaming devices, TVs and phones.

Don't Like

  • Aside from The Mandalorian, lacks major, new, original content at launch.

The big question: Is it worth the money to you? If you're a cord cutter, especially one with children, then Disney Plus is likely a must-have. With only a few notable exceptions, Netflix is losing a host of Disney content to the new service, meaning if you or the little ones want to watch Moana, for example, you'll need a Disney Plus subscription. 

Whether it allows you to ditch Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or Hulu depends on your budget and priorities. But one thing is clear: Disney Plus already belongs in the top tier of streaming services, with a massive catalog of TV shows and movies, a well-designed app available on pretty much every streaming platform and an affordable price. For those reasons it deserves CNET's Editors' Choice award.

The content

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The Simpsons is one of the high-profile series you'll find on Disney Plus, though fans aren't happy with the aspect ratio.

Fox

In contrast to the meager selection of nine shows offered by Apple TV Plus, Disney hit the ground running with 500 movies and 7,500 TV shows on its first day. There's a ton of Marvel, a ship-ton of Star Wars, a boatload of Pixar and a healthy sprinkling of National Geographic (which is owned by Disney). Depending on the content and device, there is support for both 4K HDR video and Dolby Atmos surround sound.

With so many movies and TV shows already online, it's likely that if you can think of a Disney movie or TV show, it's there. Even before you try searching, the interface serves up plenty of suggestions, including a great mix of nostalgia (Turner & Hooch) and princess movies (Moana). And more besides.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

Disney's '70s period may be denigrated these days, but the service helped resurface some classics that appeared during that period, including the Herbie series and Bedknobs and Broomsticks. The interface will reacquaint you with movies that you may have forgotten were Disney, such as Flight of the Navigator.

While not everything is there -- the lack of Descendants 3 and new series like Just Roll With It may disappoint young fans -- the search interface works in a similar way to Netflix by suggesting similar content instead. There's no lack of things to watch.

The interface

If you've used any streaming service at all, especially Netflix, then the interface of Disney Plus will be instantly familiar. The very top of the home screen is a web-like carousel with a selection of Disney's biggest hits.

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Ty Pendlebury/CNET

Underneath this, the brand's most popular properties appear across the page as static icons: Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic. Hover over each and the icon will animate, and if you click on it a short animation will appear before the branded page appears. While the interface is designed to scale to low-powered devices like USB sticks we saw little difference between any of the dozen-or-so devices we tried.

On the branded pages as well as the home page, the rows of icons are titled according to genre and help to hone the content to your requirements. Disney told us that, like the Netflix engine, the Disney Plus interface will adapt to the types of content that you watch over time. 

At the left of the screen is a Netflix-like sidebar that lets you search for content or choose from your preselected profiles. 

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Ty Pendlebury/CNET

The only real way to configure Disney Plus is through user profiles, and by default your Primary profile offers access to all of the content. It can't be set to a kids profile, but you can turn autoplay off or on, or alter the main language. In comparison kids profiles work to surface content suitable to younger viewers (5 and under) and has a brighter, blue background. 

The biggest problem I found with the interface is that some popular things might be hidden -- you may not know The Muppets is there, for example. But this is an issue that larger services such as Netflix also suffer from. 

Which devices can I watch it on?

Pretty much everything. In the weeks before launch it was touch and go whether Amazon's Fire TV would support Disney Plus, but thanks to an 11th-hour make-up, Disney Plus now has one of the widest distributions of any app.

With a Disney Plus subscription you can watch up to four different shows on four different devices at once -- whether they are on the go (with offline downloads supported) or on TV at home. 

See how it compares to the competition below.

Supported devices


Disney Apple TV Plus HBO Max Netflix
Android app Yes No Yes Yes
iOS app Yes Yes Yes Yes
Roku Yes Yes Yes Yes
Amazon Fire TV Yes Yes Yes Yes
Apple TV Yes Yes Yes Yes
Android TV Yes No Yes Yes
Chromecast Yes No Yes Yes
Xbox One Yes No Yes Yes
PlayStation 4 Yes No Yes Yes

The chart above doesn't include proprietary smart TV systems but they're well covered too: there's a Disney Plus app on Samsung, LG and Sony smart TVs. The big exception is Vizio, which won't get a dedicated Disney Plus app until 2020. In the meantime, Vizio owners have two options: connect one of the devices from the chart above or cast the app to their TVs using Google Cast or Apple AirPlay. Here's how.

Read more: Disney Plus vs. Netflix vs. Apple TV Plus vs. HBO Max: Which streaming service is right for you?

We tested Disney Plus on Roku, Apple TV ($170 at Best Buy)Fire TV ($40 at Amazon), iOS, smart TV (LG and Samsung), Android TV and the web, and apart from some weirdness on the first day (see below), they all worked in the expected fashion. If your streamer supports 4K HDR then there is a healthy selection of titles like the recent Marvel movies and the Mandalorian, but others like the recent Muppets titles are only in HD.  

Voice commands worked well on Apple TV, Fire TV and Roku in directing us to the show title or the Disney service in general. Apart from crashing Fire TV when the app wasn't yet installed voice searches worked every other time.

Smooth sailing after Day 1 issues

The first day of Disney Plus did have some initial hiccups, with the service straining to keep up with the influx of users at its launch. Disney Plus' initial service failures included delays in loading content, login issues and pieces of content disappearing. A Disney spokesperson attributed the problems to demand for the service exceeding "high expectations."

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One of the many error messages we saw on day one of Disney Plus.

Ty Pendlebury/CNET

We've seen all kinds of weirdness, from internet connection errors to blank screens, but the most unusual of all occurred when we were watching the first episode of The Mandalorian on an Apple TV. The soundtrack somehow doubled up, with dialogue and soundtracks occurring before it happened onscreen and then again in real time. As this was our introduction to the eponymous bounty hunter, we thought the Mandalorian had a squeaky voice as a result -- his dialogue was overlapping with the poor alien schmuck he was attempting to capture. "That's an odd artistic choice," I thought. Thankfully the error didn't happen on a Fire TV Stick plugged into the same TV.

After these easly jitters the app has performed very well for us in the weeks since it launched. Multiple CNET editors have told us the equivalent of "no complaints" about how the app works on a variety of devices. 

It is also worth noting, however, that some of the content on Disney Plus may have changed since you last watched it elsewhere. For instance, The Simpsons is currently only available in widescreen, with no 4:3 option for older seasons that were not HD native. The Han-shot-first scene in the original Star Wars movie, A New Hope, has apparently been edited yet again. So as you can see in the video below, it's not perfect.

Now playing: Watch this: Top 5 features Disney Plus needs
5:56

Should you get it?

For Disney's legions of Star Wars, Marvel and Pixar fans who want to enjoy those movies, and their extra features, the service is easily worth the monthly fee. The same goes for parents who want their kids to enjoy Disney's myriad family movies and TV shows. And ditto for anybody who wants to follow the latest adventures of Baby Yoda

Are people going to quit other services in order to afford this one? Possibly. If it's a choice between this or Apple TV Plus then get this. If it's a choice between Disney and Hulu and you have kids? Get this. If we were to rank the services by order of importance ours would be: 1. Netflix 2. Prime Video 3. Disney. Your priorities may be different. 

Original programs like The Mandalorian and The World According to Jeff Goldblum are fun, but it's the programming spanning almost 100 years that will likely encourage users to renew their subscriptions each month. Disney Plus is fun, easy to use and relatively affordable.