Published On: Thu, Sep 12th, 2019

Free Disney+ pilot launches in The Netherlands, here’s what it’s like

I just spent the last few minutes signing up for Disney+ and downloading apps for iOS, Android, and Apple TV. I then spent a few more minutes, several actually, streaming titles like Avengers Infinity War, Star Wars The Last Jedi, Incredibles 2, Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs, and Free Solo. No, I’m not a decorated general fighting at the front lines of the streaming wars, I’m just a dude who happens to live in The Netherlands where the Disney+ service has gone live as part of a free pilot that runs until November 12th, after which it’ll cost €6.99/mth.

I have to agree with my colleague Julia Alexander who described the Disney+ experience as “empty but elegant.” Compared to Netflix, there just isn’t much content here. Compared to Apple TV+ however, there’s a ton, and it’s very easy to find. A top row selection lets you quickly jump into Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, or National Geographic titles. Those inviting boxes sit directly below a full-width carousel showing the top promoted hits from each section. More than once I caught myself thinking, “oh, right, that’s a Disney movie” as I scrolled through hundreds of titles.

It was previously reported that only four Marvel movies would be available at launch on November 12th: Captain Marvel, Thor: The Dark World, Iron Man, and Iron Man 3; with Avengers: Endgame available later in December. The Dutch pilot — perhaps due to different licensing agreements — has 18 Marvel titles, but it’s currently missing Endgame and Captain Marvel:

  • Avengers
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron
  • Avengers: Infinity War
  • Iron Man
  • Iron Man 2
  • Iron Man 3
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2
  • Black Panther
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  • Captain America: The First Avenger
  • Captain America: Civil War
  • Thor
  • Thor: The Dark World
  • Thor: Rangnarok
  • Ant-Man
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp
  • Doctor Strange

The pilot also has the entire Star Wars franchise is available to stream, from Episode I to IX, including Star Wars specials, series, and Lego shorts. Sadly, there’s no sign of the The Mandalorian yet.

The Disney+ home page conveniently sorts content for all the Disney+ sections into a number of useful categories like Hit Movies, Out of the Vault classics, Musicals, and Documentaries. A 4K and HDR section is populated with 17 Ultra HD titles including several from the Avenger and Star Wars sagas.

Naturally you can skip all the curated lists and pages and jump straight into search, where you can find things by title, character, or genre. The search screen also lets you click into a number of Disney collections or browse through every Movie or Series on the service.

Some other observations:

  • I was able to create a maximum of seven viewer profiles.
  • Profiles can be assigned Kids status to restrict content to the less scary stuff.
  • AirPlay works from my iPhone to Apple TV.
  • Chromecast works from my Android device.
  • Downloading films to my phones for offline playback works as expected.
  • Disney+ can also be accessed via a web browser. It ran fine in Safari and Chrome on my MacBook.
  • Disney+ interface looks great on Apple TV as you’d expect with its clean layout. I’d expect the same from Roku.
  • I was able to start watching a film on the Apple TV and then switch to both my Android device and iPhone where the same film was queued up and ready to watch at the same timestamp. There’s no such handoff to the web browsers though.
  • At one point I had five Disney+ streams — three devices, two web browsers — running simultaneously even though the limit is said to be four. Two were in browsers though so shrug emoji.
  • There’s a Prince and Fairy Tales section with every Disney princess movie I can think of, from the classics like Cinderella to modern takes like Moana. My daughter will love this.

For a pilot, the entire experience was bug-free. No weirdness in the apps, no unexpected buffering, no nothing to detract from an otherwise strong first showing of Disney’s streaming service.

Of course, my impressions are drawn from a pilot running in a small country — let’s see how it scales come November 12th.

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Free Disney+ pilot launches in The Netherlands, here’s what it’s like