What’s the Difference Between Disney and Disney Plus?

By now, you’ve probably heard plenty about the impending launch of Disney Plus. Arriving on November 12th, Disney’s new streaming service has been waiting in the wings since 2017, when the company announced they wouldn’t be re-upping their contract with Netflix in lieu of developing their own platform. More than two years later, we’re finally ready to see what Disney’s developed with Disney Plus. From original programming to an entire backlog of movies and television shows, Disney Plus is looking really exciting, and we can’t wait to get our hands on it once it’s finally online for everyone.

What's the Difference Between Disney and Disney Plus?

But if you haven’t been following the hype cycle for Disney Plus, which stretches all the way back to 2017, you might be wondering what makes Disney Plus different than Disney? Let’s dive in and explain exactly why Disney is creating a “plus” version of their entertainment, and whether it’s right for you.

Signing Up for Disney Plus

Before you start streaming your favorite Disney movies on Disney Plus, you’ll need to get signed up for an account. Start by signing up here for a free week trial, or get your favorite movies, shows, and sports for one low price by bundling Disney Plus, Hulu, and ESPN Plus right here!

What’s Disney Plus?

As we summarized above, Disney Plus is Disney’s new streaming service, designed to compete with the likes of Netflix, HBO, and Amazon Prime Video. Back in 2012, Disney signed a deal with Netflix following the closure of Disney Movies Online, which would make Netflix the exclusive subscription platform—not just streaming platform, but subscription platform—for all of Disney’s new releases. That deal finally kicked off in September 2016, and it’s why movies like Avengers: Infinity War or Incredibles 2 were able to appear on Netflix so soon after their proper DVD release dates.Of course, the problem with signing a deal in 2012 that won’t go into effect until 2016 is simple: technology and media move faster than ever before, and the world of entertainment was a lot different when Netflix finally started seeing Disney properties roll onto the service. Disney signed their contract with Netflix months before House of Cards would change streaming television, with companies putting more and more emphasis on originals that won’t leave the service after a certain amount of months.

So, in August 2017, less than a year after the Netflix-Disney deal finally went into effect, Disney announced they wouldn’t be continuing their partnership, instead opting to focus on building their own platform instead. And it makes sense—after all, when your company owns several different sub-studios, including one of the most successful media brands of this century with Marvel, why wouldn’t you opt for your own service?

How is that Different Than Disney?

Obviously, Disney has plenty of different branches designed for various pieces of entertainment. From their parks and cruises to their television networks like ABC, Freeform, and the Disney Channel, Disney is one of the largest brands in entertainment today. It’s safe to think of Disney Plus as an extension of their motion pictures brand, focused on bringing new, original series and movies to online streaming networks while also offering the most comprehensive backlog of movies we’ve seen from a company that is typically protective of their older IPs.

Disney’s film production arm now consists of several different studios. There is, of course, Walt Disney Pictures, the mainstay production company that, as of late, has been responsible for the company’s live-action reimaginings, and also produces films from Walt Disney Animation Studios (like Moana and Zootopia) and Pixar (Toy Story, Cars, etc). Marvel and LucasFilm are also owned by Disney, operating inside Disney’s umbrella but as subsidiaries rather than fully-independent operations. Marvel is, perhaps, the most important film studio in Hollywood today, both from a cultural and financial outlook, while Lucasfilm was essentially rebooted under Disney after laying dormant for several years.

Finally, with the acquisition of 21st Century Fox, Disney welcomed three additional subsidiaries under their belt: 20th Century Fox, Fox Searchlight Pictures, and Blue Sky Studios. The company has continued to put out films completed prior to their buyout under these brands, with films like Dark Phoenix, Ready or Not, and Spies in Disguise coming from each of the studios, respectively.

That’s a lot to digest, and it goes to show that Disney is one of the biggest brands in entertainment today. While one could argue Disney Plus adds yet another studio arm to the multi-headed beast that is Disney, it’s safer to think of Disney Plus as an alternative to both traditional cable television and theatrical releases.

For example, while Disney has released several live-action reimaginings of their films into theaters over the last decade—with Dumbo, Aladdin, and The Lion King all released in 2019—they’re releasing Lady and the Tramp through Disney Plus instead, opting to deliver the film into the homes of subscribers everywhere. Likewise, instead of throwing The Mandalorian to the wolves on either broadcast or cable television, by releasing it on a streaming platform, it helps Disney to compete with the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime. Though Disney does own the networks we listed above, television ratings over the last twenty years have continued to fall to record lows, and it’s become obvious to most of the entertainment industry that, to keep drawing eyes, you’re going to eventually have to switch to streaming.

Is Disney Plus Worth It?

We’re going to have to wait until the company premieres their original entertainment to really know if Disney Plus is worth the $6.99 they plan to charge for a monthly subscription, but they’ve done their best to get consumers interested. From announcing a wide range of original programming reaching out beyond 2021 to tweet a comically-long list of every film and television show coming to Disney Plus, the House of Mouse has put the work in to get everyone interested in Disney Plus.

Of course, when Disney Plus does launch on November 12th, you’ll be able to get a free seven-day trial to check out the service before paying a dime, which means you can figure out whether or not Disney Plus is right for you.

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