Tuesday 24 March 2020

Disney+ is the streaming service the world needs

Disney+ launched at 1:00AM (GMT) in the UK and I was wide awake to install the apps and watch the original series of DuckTails until dawn.

The House of Mouse's streaming service is, like Nintendo's Animal Crossing, much-needed delight during the coronavirus pandemic. Empathy with everyone who is at high-risk and is self-isolating for at least 3-months, too. Where possible, I’ll be proactively helping others using social media and technology. Heartfelt thanks to frontline staff (including family & friends).

So, Olaf and Baby Yoda are warmly welcomed into my home. Nick Smith, our US-based stellar scribe, has a headstart on Disney+.

Guest post by Nick Smith

Four months ago, Disney+ launched in the United States, as well as Canada and the Netherlands. Spearheaded by Disney and Pixar movies, an original Star Wars series and classic shows like Boy Meets World and Darkwing Duck, there was enough content to excite the most casual Disney viewer. Now the channel is sizzling into British screens like a wayward travelling Tron. But is there enough content to keep Brits coming back in the months to come?

The answer is yes, as my non-Disneyphile friends are learning as they’re brought to the fold. Some come to enjoy childhood favourites like Splash and Willow. Others like the shiny new Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series and its live-action stablemate The Mandalorian. There’s also the lure of National Geographic and Marvel movies, shows and ‘Ultimate’ motion comics, although the latter are limited in length and detail.

Where Disney+ really succeeds is in the way it packages its products. Hoary old flicks are ‘Nostalgic Movies.’ Cartoons like X-Men and Gummi Bears are ‘Throwbacks.’ Best of all, subscribers can dig into ‘Collections’ that include the Herbie movies, Pirates of the Caribbean and The Muppets. Aside from new content, this repackaging suits the bingeing culture nurtured by Netflix, where it’s harder to find a series of movies in chronological order.

Surprisingly, Netflix still has a handsome handful of Disney films on offer, including Incredibles 2, Ralph Breaks the Internet and Christopher Robin. Original Marvel series like Daredevil and Jessica Jones, which proved the popularity and viability of streaming superhero sagas, are chilling in a little Netflix ‘Marvel Collection.’ But these offerings are scant compared to a year ago. It would be good to see Disney sharing with other streaming companies, using them as testing grounds for darker shows like The Punisher.

Right now, viewers caught in the mousetrap of a monthly subscription are scarfing up cheese made of mature, dependable flavours that keep them coming back for more: Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars. There’s a lot more to Walt’s world than these second-hand brands, though, and Disney+ has to do more than ape its competitors. More archival material, like vintage black and white cartoons, would be great to see, as well as unique, imaginative content – the kind that put Disney on the map in the first place.

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