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There Is Already a Clear Winner in the Disney vs. Apple Streaming Service War

One company is going to have to work a lot harder to tip the scales

Kaitlin Thomas

This fall, there will be two more high-profile streaming services vying for your hard-earned dollars in addition to Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime: Disney+ and Apple TV+. It might be a bit unfair to compare the two new subscription services, especially since neither is available yet and both seem to have been inspired by Netflix's interface. But the companies brought this upon themselves when they both decided to launch their respective services in the fall of 2019. Some might even say this all happened on purpose. But one thing is absolutely certain about all of this: there is already a clear frontrunner, and it is Disney.

Disney announced last week that its ad-free, family-friendly subscription service, which will allow consumers to download its content for unlimited offline viewing, will cost just $6.99 per month and offer access to 100 recent and 400 classic movies from the Disney library, including the titles from the infamous Disney Vault. It also will feature the entire Pixar library, every Disney Channel Original Movie, some Disney Channel series, and the films that make up the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the popular Star Wars franchise. (It's worth noting that not every show or movie that is owned by Disney will be available immediately at launch because of existing licensing agreements with other streaming platforms.)

Everything We Know So Far About Disney+, Disney's Streaming Service

This already impressive collection of titles will continue to grow, with plans for more an additional 25 original series and 10 original films, as well as documentaries and specials to be released within the first year. Some of the titles that will eventually find their way to the streaming service, though not all within the first year, include: TV series following beloved characters from the MCU -- Loki, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and WandaVision have all been confirmed thus far; the first live-action Star Wars series, The Mandalorian; a Rogue One prequel series starring Diego Luna and Alan Tudyk; Marvel Studios' first animated series, What If...?; High School Musical: The Musical: The Series; a Monsters Inc. series titled Monsters at Work; Toy Story-inspired shorts; a documentary about the making of Frozen II; the Nat Geo docuseries The World According to Jeff Goldblum; and an untitled Walt Disney Imagineering docuseries that will chronicle the six-decade history of Walt Disney's inventive Imagineers.

​The Mandalorian

The Mandalorian


As if that wasn't enough, thanks to the recent merger of Disney and 21st Century Fox, subscribers will also have access to all 30 seasons of The Simpsons and an impressive number of Fox titles. According to Disney, that collection features more than 7,500 episodes of TV and more than 500 films. Meanwhile, as an added bonus, it is highly likely that subscribers will be able to bundle Disney+ with Hulu (of which Disney now owns 60 percent) and ESPN+.

In comparison, Apple has... not a lot. The tech company obviously has money and plenty of shiny objects on which people can watch TV and movies, but Apple's foray into original content exists mostly as a lengthy list of promised projects from a number of high-profile creators and actors. People like Steven Spielberg, J.J. Abrams, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, Steve Carell, Chris Evans, Jason Momoa, and Octavia Spencer all have projects lined up at Apple. But as we gleaned from the company's overhyped presentation last month, Apple had little to show us beyond those famous faces.

Everything We Know About Apple's Streaming Service, Apple TV+

With the exception of a sizzle reel revealed at the end of the presentation, the company didn't share any footage from the titles that are currently filming or have completed filming. Showing us trailers or clips of the programming Apple TV+ has to offer rather than telling us would have whet the appetites of potential subscribers; instead, we were as bored as Chris Evans and Michelle Dockery, who will star in the limited series Defending Jacob, appeared to be:


Now, it should be noted that while Disney showed plenty of footage to the people in the room at its big Disney+ reveal, most of those trailers weren't streamed to the ordinary folks watching via webcast. But Disney had a leg up from the getgo; consumers are already familiar with the Disney brand and the type of content Disney offers, and Disney+ is being built on the back of properties like Marvel and Star Wars for that reason. The company knows what people like and what people are willing to pay for, so no one should be surprised when Disney continues to milk those megafranchises to get Disney+ up and running.

When you compare what Disney brings to the table at the outset versus what Apple brings, the scales are tipped heavily in Disney's favor. And it's difficult to see why someone who was on the fence about either service or who could only afford one of these new services would ever pick Apple TV+ over Disney+.

That does not mean that I, and probably millions of others, won't eventually fork over money for Apple's new streaming service -- the talent that Apple has recruited for its projects is a major draw, after all -- it just means Apple can't just keep throwing money at talent and expecting viewers to jump on board based on promises alone.

Disney is a proven product, but Apple original content remains untested. The company is going to have to work hard to convince me, and others like me, to subscribe. The question is: Can it?

Disney+ launches Nov. 12, 2019. Apple TV+ has yet to reveal its launch date or cost.