As streaming video providers like Netflix increasingly replace the cable packages that consumers used to rely on for the majority of TV and movie content they enjoy, variations between the respective streamers become more and more important. To the extent that most of us in the media, for example, often fall back on ranking them on the basis of which provider has which show and what you can watch where.
That’s certainly important, especially with new arrivals coming onto the scene like Apple TV+ and Disney+, both of which are launching in November and are using the makeup of their respective catalogs to reel in subscribers.
However, there’s one aspect of all this competition between existing and forthcoming streamers that isn’t talked about enough or certainly on the par with the exclusive content they’ll all carry — and that is what the experience will be like encountering their respective user interfaces. Something that it sounds like Disney+ may finally get mostly right, based on early reports, compared to the services that are out there now.
Disney+ is already being talked up plenty as finally offering Netflix a real run for its money. Not hard to see the point there, based on the massive pile of content Disney+ will exclusively host from beloved brands like Marvel, Pixar and Star Wars. Indeed, the entertainment giant over the weekend teased a ton of new movies and shows coming to its streaming service, including the much-anticipated series The Mandalorian that’s set within the Star Wars universe and looks utterly fantastic:
Here’s the thing though. Put aside everything you’ve read about the Disney+ content for a moment. Because based on some initial reviews from reporters who’ve played around with an early version of the Disney+ app, it seems that the service also has a secret weapon that may delight users and keep them happily tied to it. We’re talking, of course, about a simple, clean user experience.
Not a fan of the auto-playing trailers inside the Netflix app? Of course you aren’t. The Disney+ app won’t force that on you, according to this report, which makes clear that users get an option to watch trailers or not.
What about the huge inventory of content within Netflix, which can sometimes make it hard to find new shows you like? Disney+ won’t make its inventory on day one, so volume shouldn’t be as much of an issue. Hulu, meanwhile, has issues of its own — comparatively much less content than Netflix, and it can seem to take forever to scroll through choices vertically using the mobile app. Likewise, at least in this writer’s experience, Hulu doesn’t seem to track where you are in a TV season as well as Netflix does.
Again, all of which is to reiterate that in addition to the strength of its content, Disney+ has a chance to pull ahead of the streaming pack on the basis of its app’s user interface — the kind of thing that needs to be a simple, intuitive, clean experience so users can more quickly get to the content they love. “As a principle, we wanted a simple, elegant experience,” Disney’s streaming services president Michael Paull told The Verge about the forthcoming service and app. “We want to make this easy. We don’t want the product to get in the way of the content.”
The bottom line, according to early takes on the app, is that it seems to have done that, presenting an uncluttered app that makes it easy to find new content, sorts what you love, and highlights important titles without being intrusive. We’ll see what users think when the service finally launches on November 12.