Disney Plus to stream Dancing with the Stars live — this is a huge change

The pros perform a group number on Dancing With the Stars
(Image credit: ABC)

Disney Plus is going ballroom, as Dancing with the Stars is coming to the House of the Mouse for its next two seasons. Yes, Disney Plus is getting better in a big way, as Disney announced today (April 8) that the popular TV series will exclusively stream on Disney Plus in U.S. and Canada starting this fall.

And while that's huge news for fans of the show, it's actually even huger news for Disney Plus. As the press release states, this will be "the first live series to debut" on Disney Plus. 

The press release continues, quoting Kareem Daniel, chairman, Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution as saying "Dancing with the Stars has entertained fans for 16 years on ABC, and we are excited to bring this beloved show exclusively to Disney Plus as the platform’s first-ever live series. The show’s broad appeal, as well as the overwhelming popularity of its Disney-themed competition nights, make Disney Plus the perfect home for Dancing with the Stars while continuing to expand our demographic reach."

The series will likely air at the same time it does currently, as to not upset streaming audiences, running at 8 p.m. ET, as it does on ABC at the moment. The live factor is crucial for Dancing with the Stars, as it's one of the many competition-based reality TV shows that has audiences voting in real time, and helping decide contestants' fates.

Analysis: Disney Plus ramps up the streaming war

Two weeks ago, my colleague Kelly Woo wrote about how Disney Plus needed to get into live streaming with The Oscars. The awards show aired on ABC, a Disney-owned channel, so why not? Well, it looks like Disney had bigger plans, likely already in motion.

Right now, Netflix isn't doing anything like this, and neither is Hulu. Both are strictly playing in the world of on-demand, not-live content — with the rare exception of a live concert such as Coachella that hits Hulu. HBO Max is experimenting with live sports in Latin America, while Paramount Plus and Peacock run live sports and other events such as WWE all the time.

That said, Netflix is a powerhouse when it comes to reality TV these days. The likes of Love Is Blind, The Ultimatum and even Is It Cake? give people many reasons to tune in. But for Disney Plus to get one of the biggest competitive reality TV shows? This is huge.

So, while Disney Plus is arguably lagging behind competitors when it comes to streaming live events, they may have found their big way to burst onto the scene. And with all of the many IP under the Disney Plus umbrella, this big foray into the world of live content has unlimited options. Imagine a Q&A with the cast of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, or live streams of the San Diego Comic-Con panels?

Will this push Netflix to finally get into live events? Could that help stop people from canceling their Netflix accounts (like I did?)? Only time will tell. 

Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.