There's a big battle for your dollar, and it's being waged inside of your streaming devices and smart TVs. Disney Plus arrived on Nov. 12 and it's challenging Netflix for the title of king of all streaming media.
Disney's got a good leg up when it comes to the price of entry, but Netflix built a strong fortress of originals and licensed movies. Did Disney Plus launch with the right tools to take the throne? Let's find out.
Disney Plus vs Netflix price: Half vs whole
When it comes to the cost of entry, Disney's got Netflix beat. It only costs $6.99 to start a Disney Plus account, which is $2 cheaper than the entry-level Netflix account (which is mediocre at best, more on that later). That price allows four users to stream at the same time, so even a full house can be a happy house when its members prefer different shows and movies.
The standard Netflix account—the one that most people buy because you need that for HD streaming—costs $12.99. Netflix gets as expensive as $15.99 with its premium account. Netflix's $8.99 Basic account only lets you watch on one device at a time, and you need that pricey premium account to let four devices stream at the same time. The $12.99 Standard plan allows for 2 streams at once.
Winner: Disney Plus
Disney Plus vs Netflix availability
Netflix, the established player that popularized the business model of streaming movies and shows, is everywhere. Specifically, you can watch Netflix in more than 190 countries.
Disney Plus, on the other hand, is currently only in the United States, Canada and the Netherlands. It's coming to Australia, New Zealand and Puerto Rico on November 19. Those in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and Spain have to wait until 2020.
Disney Plus vs Netflix Interface
Disney Plus doesn’t shake up the streaming media app formula: you get rows of tiles that separate shows by category. Clicking into Search, you see sections for movies and shows and originals, and that’s all a lot like what you see at Netflix. There’s also a tab for downloaded content, just like in Netflix apps.
Disney Plus’ interface is still lacking in these early days. There’s no section to see what shows and movies you haven’t finished, and when you open a show you’re midway through, you don’t see an option to resume. Disney Plus (like Netflix) recommends shows based on your activity, and supports multiple user profiles (which Netflix also provides).
Netflix’s interface still needs some work, though, as autoplaying audio and video is often jarring and annoying (though it can be disabled), especially when your cursor just hovers over a show, and you’re not even interested. Also, Netflix’s promotional splash images for its shows can be pretty huge, and feel a little much if you don’t care about the show. These quibbles are more nitpicky, though, and more about my personal preference.
Disney Plus vs Netflix supported devices
Netflix, which has been streaming movies and shows since 2007, is everywhere. From streaming devices like Rokus, Chromecasts, Fire TV sticks and game consoles, phones and tablets and smart TVs and laptops, if it can connect to a screen it probably has Netflix. It's even on standalone Blu-ray players and set-top boxes from cable and satellite TV providers like Dish, RCN and Xfinity.
Disney Plus is similarly ubiquitous, but it's missing Blu-ray players and … Vizio TVs? Or at least for now. The Chromecasts built into Vizio-brand smart TVs were too old to support Disney Plus's standards, but an update is coming soon. Netflix has its own aging device support story on its hands, as older Roku devices and Samsung Smart TVs will be losing the Netflix app in December, but it’s still in far more devices than Disney Plus.
Disney Plus vs Netflix 4K support
Netflix makes you pay extra for better resolution, putting 4K Ultra HD video at its Premium tier, which costs $15.99. That’s $9 more than Disney Plus, which includes 4K video by default.
Also, Disney Plus makes it easy to find its UHD content, which a seperate section when browsing movies and TV shows. Netflix, on the other hand, does not. Netflix notes you can search "4K" or "UltraHD" to see the offerings available.
Netflix regains some of its credibility with a superior 4K library, with 785 titles (according to JustWatch) to Disney Plus' 48.
Winner: Disney Plus
Disney Plus vs Netflix parental controls
I don’t know if parents want parental controls for Disney Plus — it has no TV-MA or R-rated content — but they might be surprised to know the service’s parental controls aren’t really there. Instead you have kids accounts, which get access to age appropriate content, which sounds good until you notice that your kid can open a parent’s account with minimal effort.
Netflix does things better, but still has room to improve. For example, while kids can open parent accounts whenever they want, parents can lock mature content behind a PIN number, they just need to do that on every profile on the account, including their own.
Neither service provides time management for child accounts.
Disney Plus vs Netflix content library
While Disney Plus made a lot of headlines for the epic 3-plus-hour-long trailer, it's not the king of the title count. According to Finder.com Netflix offers 3,931 movies and 1,818 television shows to audiences in the United States, a total of 5,749 titles overall. That dwarfs the 652 movies and shows that Disney Plus launched with. Also, Netflix offers movies with R and NC-17 ratings, which Disney Plus does not.
Disney Plus, on the other hand, is the new home for many of our favorites. If your favorite Star Wars, Marvel and Pixar movies aren't there yet, they will be sooner or later.
Don't bet on permanent with either platform. Movies and shows come and go on Netflix on a monthly basis, and there's a Disney/Netflix deal in place that could send some movies back to big red in 2020.
Disney Plus vs Netflix scorecard
|Supported devices (15)||12||15|
|4K support (10)||8||6|
|Parental controls (10)||3||9|
|Content library (30)||23||29|
Overall winner: Netflix
With its higher pricing, Netflix had a steep hill to climb to get this win, but it earns it. Not only is it more widely available around the world, supported by more devices and better at letting parents control their kids' usage, but its library is much larger.
Disney Plus is no slouch though, thanks to its beloved exclusive franchises, affordability and by-default 4K streaming. It doesn't hurt that Disney lets 4 users stream at once while Netflix makes you pay more for that.
At the end of the day, the good news is that there is no reason to not subscribe to both of these services if each provides enough value. But Netflix is still the king of the mountain.