Tuesday is another big decision day for streaming video fans with the arrival of Disney’s new subscription service, Disney+.
This day has been long in the making for Disney. The entertainment powerhouse began pulling back its content from competitors such as Netflix two years ago in preparation for launching its own direct-to-consumer offering. And Disney’s $71 billion acquisition of the Fox movie and TV studios, which closed earlier year, bolstered the home of Mickey Mouse’s catalog of content with prizes such as “Avatar” and “The Simpsons.”
With Disney+ ($6.99 monthly or $69.99 for one year, disneyplus.com) going live Tuesday, what does a binging buff need to know?
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How to watch Disney+
You can connect via broadband on streaming devices such as Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Roku and Google Chromecast, plus game consoles PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Smart TVs from LG and Samsung, as well as Sony TVs with built-in Android TV operating system, will connect, as will iOS and Android smartphones and other mobile or portable devices.
With a subscription, you can stream on up to four devices simultaneously and download videos to watch on the go. Each account can have seven different profiles and parents can create a kids profile to limit viewing to age-appropriate content.
If you have a 4K TV, some of the new service’s movies will be available in that higher-resolution format and will support high-dynamic range (HDR), which provides improved contrast, richer colors and increased detail.
What does Disney+ have to watch?
At the outset, Disney+ will have 10 new, original TV series and movies exclusive to the service. Among those available Tuesday: “The Mandalorian,” a live-action Star Wars series set after “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi,” and “Lady and the Tramp,” a live-action movie starring real dogs in a reboot of the 1955 animated classic.
Also available: “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series,” “The World According to Jeff Goldblum,” the Christmas film “Noelle,” starring Anna Kendrick and Bill Hader, and “Forky Asks a Question,” starring Forky, the animated character in Pixar’s “Toy Story 4.”
Of course, Disney’s service has a stocked library of animated classics such as “Bambi,” “Cars,” “Fantasia,” “Finding Nemo,” “Frozen,” “Lady and the Tramp,” “The Little Mermaid,” “The Incredibles,” “Toy Story” and “Wall-E.”
Then there’s the entire original Star Wars saga sitting on Disney+’s digital shelf, which will add “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” after its theatrical run (in theaters Dec. 20), and pay-per-view period. For now, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” and “Solo: A Star Wars Story” remain on Netflix, due to deals made years ago.
The service will also be the exclusive streaming home of Disney, Pixar and Marvel studios films, meaning if you are a Marvel movie junkie this is the only way to Marvel movies such as “Iron Man,” “Thor: The Dark World,” “Avengers: Endgame,” and “Captain Marvel.” (As with the Star Wars movies, there’s a few Marvel films such as “Avengers: Infinity War” that remain on Netflix for now, but all Marvel and Star Wars films will eventually come to Disney+.)
Disney and Pixar movies arriving soon include “Dumbo,” “Aladdin,” “Toy Story 4,” “The Lion King,” “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil,” and “Frozen 2” (in theaters Nov. 22).
There’s also TV series such as “Duck Tales,” “Kim Possible,” “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse,” “Stars Wars: The Clone Wars” and “That’s So Raven.”
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How many streaming services can I handle?
Many folks are asking themselves just that. Disney+ debuts less than two weeks after the arrival of Apple+. Tthe iPhone maker’s own subscription service ($4.99 monthly or one year free with device purchase) debuted with eight original series including “The Morning Show,” with Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell, and “See,” a sci-fi action series with Jason Momoa (“Aquaman”).
These latest entries join the dozens of major streaming services already available and the 300 or so total seeking to woo subscribers. And there’s more services on the way from AT&T (HBO Max), and Comcast/NBCUniversal (Peacock).
However, Disney+ arrives already in a position of strength due to its loyal fan base and “a content library that is unmatched,” said Wedbush Securities analyst Daniel Ives in a recent note to investors.
“We believe there is room for consumers to add one to two more streaming services onto their entertainment monthly budgets as the cord cutting theme further takes hold into 2020 with both Apple and Disney in a strong position to find success on this front with others (Peacock, HBO Max) also poised to markedly disrupt the streaming landscape over the next year as a new ‘age of content’ is set to take hold,” Ives said.
In an attempt to simplify things for consumers, Disney is bundling Disney+ with its other two subscription streaming services – Hulu ($5.99, on demand with ads) and ESPN+ ($4.99) – in a $12.99 monthly package, which compares well to Netflix, which has plans at $12.99 for HD and two streams and $15.99 for 4K video and four streams.
New subscribers to Verizon ultimate wireless, FIOS and 5G Home Internet services will also get a free year of Disney+.
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Follow USA TODAY reporter Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider.