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

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


Free until November 12th

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Disney+ on Android and Apple TV (background).
Disney+ on Android and Apple TV (background).
Photo by Thomas Ricker / The Verge

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 WarStar Wars The Last JediIncredibles 2Snow 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 Disney+ has gone live. It’s a free pilot that runs until November 12th, after which time it’ll cost €6.99 a month, or $6.99 if you’re in the US.

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.

<em>The standard home page as viewed in a browser.</em>


The standard home page as viewed in a browser.

It was previously reported that only four Marvel movies would be available at launch on November 12th: Captain MarvelThor: The Dark WorldIron 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 available to stream, from Episode I to VIII, including Star Wars specials, series, and Lego shorts. Sadly, there’s no sign of the The Mandalorian yet.

A 4K and HDR section is populated with 17 Ultra HD titles

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 Ultra HD and HDR section is populated with 17 titles including a few from the Avenger and Star Wars sagas. Unfortunately, the Disney+ search feature doesn’t work for terms like “4K” or “HDR” or “Ultra HD.” When using a browser, titles listed in the 4K Ultra HD and HDR section don’t identify themselves as 4K once you click into their pages — to see that you have to use the apps. The Disney+ help page says it supports Dolby Vision, HDR10, and Dolby Atmos. Here’s the full list of 4K titles available right now:

  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
  • Avengers: Infinity War
  • Black Panther
  • Captain America: The Winter Solider
  • Captain America: Civil War
  • Captain America: The First Avenger
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron
  • Free Solo
  • Aladdin
  • Ralph Breaks The Internet
  • Mary Poppins Returns
  • A Wrinkle in Time
  • Christopher Robin
  • The Prince Diaries
  • The Prince Diaries 2
  • The Nutcracker and the Four Realms
The only place to find 4K HDR content is in this section; you can’t search for it. Individual titles say if they support 4K, HDR, and Atmos formats only in the apps, not in the browser.
The only place to find 4K HDR content is in this section; you can’t search for it. Individual titles say if they support 4K, HDR, and Atmos formats only in the apps, not in the browser.

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. There’s nothing to stop a kid from switching to a parent’s profile though.
  • 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. You can not download content for offline viewing via the browser.
  • Disney+ interface looks great on Apple TV as you’d expect with its clean layout. I’d expect the same from Roku, LG TVs, the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and other supported devices.
  • 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 Princess and Fairy Tales section with every Disney princess I can think of, from the classics like Cinderella to modern takes like Moana. My daughter will love this.
  • According to a help page within the Disney+ app, the service will have more than 7,500 television episodes and over 500 film titles in the first year.
  • The film titles typically have lots of extras, including deleted scenes, commentary, and trailers.
  • No sign of the Simpsons in Dutch pilot.

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 with fast and ubiquitous internet — let’s see how it scales come November 12th when it launches in the US, Canada, and the Netherlands, followed by Australia and New Zealand on November 19th.

Disney+ /

Launching November 12th for $6.99 a month


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