Now that most of us have had a full day to mess around with Disney+, we wanted to sit down and compare the brand new streaming service with Netflix, the current direct-to-consumer juggernaut. Before we get too in-depth with this, it's well-known the offering from Disney had its fair share of problems throughout the day and in an attempt of providing a fair comparison, we'll try ignoring those completely. After all at any given time, hundreds of thousands — or millions — of users were likely logging onto the app, causing it all kinds of problems.
That aside, we'll be comparing the two services on five categories: content, quality of streaming, personalization, user interface, and price. We'll compare the two pieces of software head-to-head and declare a winner by the time we get to the end — sound fair enough? Keep on scrolling to see what we have to say about Disney+ and Netflix. After you've read, let us know your thoughts on the topic either in the comments section or by hitting me up on Twitter at @AdamBarnhardt to chat all things streaming!
Admittedly, this is the hardest category we'll have to pick a winner in. On one hand, Disney+ just launched with an incredible library of classic hits we all grew up with. Whether you were around from the classic like Bambi and Cinderella or you're a 90's kid like me, there's a little bit of something for everyone. Then there are nearly the entire libraries from both the Marvel Studios and Star Wars franchises plus a whole grip of fascinating original programming.
Then there's Netflix, which has had the past 12 years to slowly curate its massive library of both licensed properties as well as original hits. At least at this point in time, Netflix is the clear winner in original programming. The likes of Stranger Things, Daredevil, Lost in Space, Grace and Frankie, The Ranch, and dozens of others certainly outweigh The Mandalorian, The World According to Jeff Goldblum, and the new High School Musical series. Plus, Netflix has all kinds of licensed content — The Office, Parks and Rec, Friends, and thousands of movies.
It essentially comes down to asking ourselves if nostalgia is enough of an advantage to trump the ever-expansive library Netflix has acquired. Even though Netflix has a hearty library, I just can't get over the fact that shows like Gargoyles or Darkwing Duck and movies like Blank Check or Smart House can be watched with a few clicks of the remote.
Spinning straight out of the content, I'm not sure it's even fair to compare the number of titles with 4K streaming quite yet. While Disney+ does have a growing list with dozens of 4K UHD offerings, Netflix has a chunk of titles in the hundreds. Sure, Disney+ might get a comparable 4K output someday but at least now on launch, Netflix is the clear winner in this category.
The good thing about both services is that it allows you to create separate profiles, so each member of the family can have their own section of the account. This is particularly helpful when it comes to the algorithms that populate the related content fields and the like. While navigating Disney+, I found it was a few more steps to add and edit the aforementioned profiles than what it's like on Netflix. That said, the process to create and edit profiles is pretty similar and they also both have the function to quit autoplaying episodes, a feature I didn't know I absolutely needed until my Disney+ account came with it turned off, for whatever reason.
Then there's the algorithm. Through the course of the day on Disney+, I watched a few different Marvel movies, a good chunk of Gargoyles episodes, the first episode of The Mandalorian, and a little bit of Boy Meets World. After that viewing slate, I'm not quite sure Disney+ has its recommendation algorithm figured out. As of this writing, some of the shows in my "Recommended for You" section are Gordon Ramsay Uncharted, Free Solo, The Incredible Dr. Pol, and Kristen Bell's Encore! Unless Disney was able to log into the smart speaker I have in my kitchen to somehow smell the amazing dinner I cooked, I have no idea where Ramsay came from...plus I'm deadly afraid of heights so Free Solo's definitely a no go. And what's a horse doctor have to do with me?!
Maybe the Disney+ algorithm's broken but whatever the case, it's certainly not working for me at the moment.
As a graphic designer in a past life, I was surprised when I dove in and saw the UI of Disney+. I wasn't shocked because it was bad, rather I think it was a surprise the design just seems so bland. Netflix has its uber-sleek black and scarlet color scheme which leads to a very sophisticated look while Disney+ appears to be more of a cookie-cutter type set up. I've also noticed quite a difference between how the app looks and interacts on mobile devices compared to television-based devices. In total, I've used Disney+ on an iPhone, iPad, Roku, and Amazon Fire and it most certainly looks better on both of the mobile iOS devices.
In fact, the experience overall is generally better overall using the new service on mobile devices. In a world where we want to consume content as quick as possible, the search function on both the Roku and Amazon Fire apps has been cumbersome, to say the least. There have been times while using the Roku app, results simply won't show up or completely different things are populated.
On the other hand, I really don't have any major qualms about Netflix and its current interface. It's super easy to use, the search is typically on point and it doesn't matter if you're on mobile or at home, you can always expect the same results.
You already know who's going to win this one and there's no comparison. The entire package Disney+ has to offer is worth over $6.99 per month, I think we all know that. Whether this is introductory pricing is temporary or not, that doesn't matter — so long as it's as cheap as it is, it'll beat Netflix in pricing any day of the week.
If you're keeping tracking at home, you'll have seen Netflix has bested Disney+ in three of our five categories, meaning that at this point — at least to this writer — Netflix is the superior streaming platform between the two. That said, Disney+ is packing a serious punch and once it starts rolling out more original content — say those limited series from Marvel Studios — maybe it's a topic we can revisit.
If you want to give Disney+ a try, you can do that here.
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