SALT LAKE CITY — Disney Plus is officially live (or it will be by the time you read this article), bringing the Walt Disney Company right into the streaming services war.

The service will cost $6.99 per month and give subscribers access to 426 movies and 184 TV shows.

More than that, Disney will unlock much of the Disney catalog for users, which includes all of the “Star Wars” films and most of the Marvel films. The service will launch with a new TV show, too, called “The Mandalorian,” which will bring viewers into the “Star Wars” universe yet again.

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The service will be a bit of a risk for Disney, which has had a banner year at the box office with releases such as “Avengers: Endgame,” “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” and “The Lion King,” among several others. The company also unveiled a new land at Disneyland and Disney World, called Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge, and closed its $71 billion deal with 21st Century Fox.

But experts say Disney CEO Bob Iger will be taking his biggest risk yet for the company. Disney will join the streaming wars right at its peak, with several other media companies set to join the fray.

The landscape of streaming service, which once only included Netflix, Hulu and Amazon, has now added Apple, Disney and more. HBO and NBC are on tap to join next.

With the influx of so many streaming platforms and the increase in cord-cutting, does this mean we have reached a tipping point with streaming services? Will people buy Disney Plus when there are already a slew of other streaming services out there? Or will people finally cut the cord and go all in on streaming services?

Will Americans keep paying for streaming?

It’s hard to imagine Americans paying for too many more streaming services, especially if they subscribe to most that are available. The costs are getting closer to what started the cable cutting phenomenon. So will Americans keep streaming?

Consider that Netflix, at its most basic level, costs $8.99. Hulu is an additional $11.99. Amazon Prime adds a $8.99 cost and Disney Plus will bring a $6.99 cost.

If you add in Apple TV Plus ($4.99), HBO Max ($14.99), ESPN Plus ($4.99), Showtime ($10.99), CBS All Access ($9.99), Starz ($8.99) and the forthcoming Peacock, the total monthly cost is $91.90 — and that’s without adding any monthly news subscriptions, like Apple News, The Washington Post or The New York Times.

The average cost of a cable subscription package? $107 per month. Streaming service costs are getting comparable to cable TV subscriptions.

A look at the streaming menu for Disney Plus.
A look at the streaming menu for Disney Plus. | Disney

“I think there’s starting to be some streaming fatigue ... with the need to keep subscribing to new and more on different platforms,” said Shawn Shimpach, an associate professor in the communications department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Netflix seems to have noticed the fatigue as a well. In a recent statement, Netflix said price increases are prompting people to unsubscribe. And competition from other streamers could hurt subscriber growth.

Netflix succeeded because it was a one-stop shop where you could find several movies and TV shows in one place, which is why it grew so quickly, Shimpach said. Americans cut the chord from cable because everything was in one place.

Industry experts and media companies like Disney and HBO caught on, noticing they were losing potential revenue by licensing their products to streaming services rather than launching their own.

“And they saw how quickly Netflix grew and how profitable it became,” Shimpach said. “They wanted that for themselves. They wanted to cut out the middleman ... They already control distribution, but they want to control exhibition, essentially, the way in which consumers actually access the programming and have that all part of the same company, all under the same umbrella.”

So companies began the launch of other streaming platforms — ESPN Plus, Apple TV Plus, HBO Max and Peacock all arrived soon after.

Now, Americans are becoming more considerate of how much they’re spending on streaming, too. Futurist Amy Webb suggested at the Online News Association conference in New Orleans this year that Americans were willing to pay $36.21 per month on streaming services. But that number might be even smaller.

A survey from Hollywood Reporter and Morning Consult found that Americans who stream media pay for three services for $7 per month, though they’re only interested in paying $21 per month. Respondents said the acceptable range is somewhere between $17 and $27 per month.

But when will enough be enough?

Is Disney Plus worth it?

Though Disney Plus brings an extensive catalog with it, the value may not be as high as other streaming services. The library is small compared to others, which makes sense given the smaller monthly price. But there are other streaming services that will make your dollar go father.

A new report from Comparitech broke down each streaming service platform by monthly cost, number of moves, number of TV shows and the total number of titles and costs per title.

Netflix app.
DepositPhotos

Here’s a quick breakdown:

DISNEY PLUS

  • Cost: $6.99 per month
  • Movies: 426
  • TV shows: 184
  • Total titles: 610
  • Cost per title: $0.01146

AMAZON PRIME

  • Cost: $12.99 per month
  • Movies: 23,119
  • TV shows: 1,955
  • Total titles: 25,074
  • Cost per title: $0.00052

NETFLIX

  • Cost: $8.99 (basic) per month
  • Movies: 3,756
  • TV shows: 1,525
  • Total titles: 5,281
  • Cost per title: $0.00170

HULU

  • Cost: $5.99 (basic) per month
  • Movies: 1,341
  • TV shows: 1,361
  • Total titles: 2,702
  • Cost per title: $0.00222

The main takeaway is that Amazon has the biggest library so far among streaming services, owning more than 190% more titles than Disney Plus and 161% more than Hulu.

Disney Plus, it turns out, is the least cost effective option given its small library and moderate cost. And yet a family looking for content that children can consume alone or with their parents will be attracted to this digital library.

“If you’re looking for variety and value for money, Amazon Prime is the clear winner here. But if you’re looking for a catalog of nostalgic must-watches or award-winning original movies and series, Disney Plus or Netflix may be the answer for you,” according to the report.

Rebecca Moody, who works with Compareitech’s European team, told the Deseret News: “Recommendations will rely on people’s preferences and what they’re looking for. Netflix is still very popular for its originals while Disney plus will probably appeal to those looking for classic films or family friendly features.”

Shimpach agreed that Disney will be most appealing for families and children, which could increase its value among the masses.

“They actually happen to have a lot of programming ... along with the kids programming. Kids are a major factor in this, even for Netflix and for some of the other services,” he said. “It’s a convenient way of having entertainment for the kids, usually without commercial interruption. And kids kind of want this kind of access — immediate, on demand and variety.

“So I think Disney itself happens to be well-positioned for launching a new streaming service, some of the others I’m less certain about,” he said.

What does the future look like?

It’s unclear how the future of streaming will play out.

The future of streaming services may include more bundle packages, according to Shimpach.

In a way, Disney Plus has already started down this path of the bundle. Disney Plus will offer a bundle at launch that includes a Hulu Plus and ESPN Plus subscription for $12.99 per month. ESPN Plus offers live sports — something that’s remained exclusive to cable television.

But subscription plans may not be the answer either. Few companies will obtain enough subscribers to pay for themselves, Shimpach said.

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“I think Netflix already has such a head start,” he said. “And Disney has so much content that’s very, very popular that people want access to. Those probably will at least in the short run, do fine.”

A look at the Disney Plus menu.
A look at the Disney Plus menu. | Disney

Still, Americans are cutting the cord. Experts predict that 50 million people will drop their cable or satellite TV subscriptions by 2021. That’s an additional 20 million than the amount who have already cut the cord, and 10 million more than predicted in 2017.

More companies are embracing the streaming model, and only time will tell if Americans will step away.

“I think everybody in the industry, this is on their mind and nobody quite knows how it’s going to play out,” Shimpach said. “So that’s why ... each company wants to have a route to some kind of streaming service that they control and that they get the revenue from.”

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