Disney has now entered the subscription-based streaming services market with the launch of DisneyLife, a Netflix-like service that lets families of up to 6 people stream Disney movies, TV shows and even music, audiobooks and e-books online, to their mobile devices, or to TVs via Apple’s AirPlay or Google Chromecast. But before you get your hopes up, Disney fans, be aware that the service is only available in the U.K. for the time being, and will later expand to other European markets.
The company first announced its intentions to roll out the streaming service in October, noting at the time that Disney’s goal with this unique digital offering was to take better control over Disney’s content and its distribution by reaching consumers directly, instead of through the middleman.
That means that Disney is rethinking how it manages the digital rights to its extensive library, which today includes not only the Disney brand itself, but also Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars.
In the U.S., much of Disney’s movie and television library is already tied up in other deals – for example, Netflix scored the right to Disney theatrical releases starting next year, and is reportedly negotiating the streaming rights for “Star Wars” films in Latin America, among other things. However, Disney has not ruled out bringing similar streaming services to the U.S. in the future.
In fact, the suggestion earlier was that Marvel or Star Wars-themed services could be in the works, as the platform that powers DisneyLife was built in-house and can now be repurposed.
In the meantime, U.K. users get to be the first to try out the new streaming platform. DisneyLife will allow anyone to test the service for a month for free before the £9.99 per month subscription fees kick in.
Though in many ways the new service is a lot like a Disney version of Netflix, its content selection extends beyond just movies and TV, which differentiates it from today’s lot of over-the-top offerings.
Included at launch are hundreds of movies, including both Disney and Pixar titles; over 5,000 songs, including those from popular movies like Frozen, The Little Mermaid, Toy Story, and more; over 2,000 TV episodes; as well as a large library of Disney books (audio and e-book).
Plus, users have the ability to download a free Disney app every month. This month, the app will be “Cars 2 World Grand Prix Read and Race.”
In addition, unlike many streaming services today, DisneyLife’s subscribers will be able to download videos to their mobile devices for offline viewing, where they’ll be stored for a limited time before being removed automatically.
Disney is also fairly generous when it comes to how many devices the new service supports, allowing families to register up to ten devices, download content to all ten, and stream content on up to four devices at the same time.
Parents can also set parental controls to restrict usage by day or time.
Disney plans to later expand the service outside the U.K. to other European countries including France, Spain, Italy and Germany. However, the service is available now in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish, hinting at its plans to soon arrive outside the U.K. market, as previously promised.