People who used HBO Now to watch Game of Thrones know the struggle of having the system overload and crash. Michael Paull, president of Disney’s streaming services and former CEO of BAMTech (the technology that powered HBO Now for years), is thinking about that as Disney+ prepares to launch.
Disney is pouring all of its resources into promoting its streaming service. One of the biggest booths on the floor at D23, the company’s biennial convention for fans, is dedicated to Disney+. Live demos and trivia draw in excited fans who are clamoring around to get a first look at Disney’s answer to Netflix. Credit cards at the ready, people are signing up for their discounted bundles (D23 attendees can get three years of Disney+ for $140 — a savings of $23) as a timer counts down the days until it launches. People are excited, and Disney is expecting a pretty big first day.
The technology that powers Disney+ is the same that’s used for sports streaming service ESPN+. The team is planning to use what the ESPN+ engineers saw during specific UFC fights to try to prepare for Disney+’s launch day.
“We’re thinking very much about [overload],” Paull told The Verge. “Fortunately, we’ve had the experience with Game of Thrones, we’ve had the experience of ESPN+ with the big pay-per-view events that we’re doing with UFC exclusively on our platform. We’re getting big bursts. We’ve built capabilities to sustain that, both in terms of processing the transactions that all come in — in a very, very short period of time — as well as the streams.”
The difference between shows like Game of Thrones and a UFC event is that the latter is a live event lasting between one and four hours. Disney+’s launch day is, well, a day. It’s something that Paull has noticed. “Live events, in particular, get a crazy curve of people coming in.”
Still, Paull and his team are prepared. His time at BAMTech, which launched other services like WWE’s streaming platform, caught the attention of Disney CEO Bob Iger. The technology on which BAMTech runs is a big part of Disney+; it’s why Disney bought a majority stake in the company. Ensuring that people who come to Disney+ can watch it without much buffering or worse — like not being able to run anything at all, as early Game of Thrones fans will remember — is key.
“We are ready,” Paull said. “We’re spending a lot of time planning for this launch.”
Disney+ will launch on November 12th for $6.99 a month. Users can also choose to purchase a bundle that includes ad-supported Hulu and ESPN+ for $12.99 a month.