Going into 2022, Disney+ is now moving on from its newcomer tag. It’s no longer the new streaming service on the block. It is one of the most subscribed streamers on the planet, with over 118 million homes subscribed, with double, treble or quadruple that many people actually watching Disney+ on a daily basis.
But there are still some problems with Disney+, many of which are just small annoyances, that Disney has already either fixed or has the ability to improve.
So I wanted to highlight some of the problems Disney+ has right now, that should they sort out, would make Disney+ a much more pleasant place to watch your favourite shows and movies.
Here’s the rundown:
1) Better Notifications of New Episodes
One of the most frustrating things I find on a Wednesday after Disney+ has updated, is trying to see what new episodes have been released. When a whole new series is added, it’s pretty easy to tell, since we get to see a brand new thumbnail that we’ve not seen before.
But unlike many other streaming services, there is very little indication that there is a brand new episode available. Sometimes Disney updates the banner on the top of the Disney+ home page, but this is often only used for the biggest and most popular shows.
An idea could be a small little feature could be to add an overlay or even add a temporary thumbnail stating there is a new episode would be great. Other streaming services like Amazon and Netflix already do this.
Obviously, we would only want this notification to be available for a limited time, since there is nothing more annoying seeing “NEW” but you’ve already watched it days or weeks ago.
2) Bring Back The Coming Soon Section
I feel like I’ve been saying this for years, ever since Disney+ launched, it’s been lacking a coming soon section. Ironically, recently, on Disney+ Day in November, a small coming soon section was added to the home page, but within weeks, it’s now been removed.
While I understand that it might not be possible to include every single upcoming film and series in this section, just focusing on the next wave of new Disney+ and Star Originals would make awareness of these shows higher.
3) Bring Back The A-Z
Ever since Disney+ added “Star” as the new general entertainment brand to Disney+ around the world in February, it removed the ability to view the entire collection of Disney+ in one handy list.
At the time, it made sense, since Disney+ had doubled the amount of content it had available for millions of subscribers globally, so it’s likely that it was pulled to reduce strain on the platform. But over six months, it’s never returned and it would be great to be able to stroll through the entire Disney+ catalogue without any filters or restrictions.
Either then, or just make more filters available, such as by brand ie Star, Disney, 20th Century Studios, etc. As currently, the filters within the menus are still very simple.
4) Less Rectangles
For over 2 years, strolling through Disney+ was just a never-ending selection of identical rectangle thumbnails, which while uniform, didn’t exactly catch the eye when something was new.
On Disney+ Day, the whole front page was updated with some new…..wait for it…. tall rectangles! It broke up the entire Disney+ home page. Not only that, they also added a little section to highlight “Olaf Presents”. This really caught your attention when strolling through the Disney+ home page.
But once again, much like the coming soon area, it was removed. Returning back to the same rectangle designs. It’s not the most important feature I’d like to return, but it just highlights new originals or celebrations in a interesting way.
5) Notify Users When Something Is Going To Leave
In the US, Disney+ has a problem with existing contracts that result in some films being removed for a temporary period and having to go to another streaming platform. These contracts were either made before Disney purchased 20th Century Fox or long before Disney+ existed.
One option to fix this would be to buy out all the existing contracts, but a simple option, would be just to inform subscribers this is going to happen. Which is what every other streaming service does.
Disney+ already has added a little area within the app to provide this type of information, but never uses it for this purpose. It could also be used to indicate when a removed title is coming back.
6) Improved Recommended
Most streaming platforms have a “Recommended” area within Disney+, highlighting things to watch that you’ve not already seen. It makes complete sense for streaming services to encourage you to dive into something new.
But whereas YouTube has a complicated algorithm to deliver the perfect list of videos that it has worked out from your viewing habits that it thinks you’ll be interested in. Disney+ doesn’t necessarily need to have an algorithm like YouTube, which Google spends millions of dollars developing. But it should at least offer shows varied for the user.
When I log into my Netflix account, it looks completely different to my wife’s. Because it’s been adapted through an algorithm to present a new selection of appropriate shows and films. The only flaw to this is when we end up watching a show together. The other profile doesn’t highlight you’ve seen it. But that’s out of the app’s ability, unless they start monitoring who’s sat on the couch watching, which I don’t think we actually want to happen.
Disney+ has some variation between users, adding sections based on your viewing history. However, it still feels pretty basic and feels way behind Netflix, who spend much more time developing ways to increase viewing within the app. Disney could drastically improve its viewing time if it invested more in creating a better way to promote new content to users. And with the amount of content coming into Disney+ over the next few years, it’s going to have to take this more seriously.
7) Disney+ Has Parental Controls – Use Them
When Disney+ initially launched, it launched with a minimal parental control system because it didn’t have any content rated beyond a TV14. It was either the main account or a kids account. This was pretty simple, and parents quickly got used to Disney+ being a child-friendly app because there wasn’t much on the platform that children shouldn’t be watching.
Earlier this year, Disney+ implemented a new parental control system globally, making it possible to change a Disney+ account to allow content from a specific age category. However, it should be noted, that in the US and Latin America, this content rating selection doesn’t include 16+ or 18+ options, since there isn’t anything on the app rated that high.
As you’ve seen from the screenshots of my Disney+ account in this article, we have mature content like “The Walking Dead” sitting alongside “Doc McStuffins” in the UK. This is because my account is set to 18+, so it is completely unlocked.
When Disney+ launched Star, it released several little videos and adverts online, showcasing the new parental controls, and since then, generally, international parents embraced the ability to watch more content and had the tools in place, like with any other streaming service, to control or limit access to content not appropriate for their children.
I believe, Disney needs to do a similar promotional campaign in the United States, to make parents more aware that some content on Disney+ might not be appropriate. Especially, as it starts to add more content that isn’t suitable for everyone.
Recently, Disney+ added “The Beatles: Get Back”, which was rated 16+, but in the US, it had to be rated differently because it wouldn’t fit into the categories. They also had to put an advisory notice on it due to the swearing and smoking.
As Disney+ continues to evolve, making parents more aware that Disney+ has these tools in place to protect their children and to start using them. Especially if they are planning on adding more content.
Now, obviously, there are some issues with Hulu that can’t just be fixed without spending billions buying out Comcast’s 33% stake in the streaming service. Obviously, I’d rather Disney+ subscribers in the United States and Latin America had access to Star in 2022, because it makes Disney+ a much more better offering.
But.. Disney could start making some steps to change the attitude towards Disney+, utilising some of the content they already own that fits within the current idea of keeping Disney+ in the US as family-focused, while still keeping Hulu as it is right now. Adding shows like “The Strain” or films like “Deadpool” would take a massive publicity campaign, as we saw with the launch of Star internationally. But Disney+ could push a little more into the confines it has been given.
National Geographic is one of the core brands of Disney+, yet Disney is still sliding some of its content with controversial topics away from Disney+. Documentaries are a great way of slowly pushing the boundaries on more mature topics, but are still only rated for audiences aged 12 or 14 and over. With many teenagers learning about topics like World War 2, 9/11 or drugs at school, not having this content on Disney+ is a missed learning opportunity.
Another way of introducing more content for older viewers is to include some popular ABC sitcoms or shows that are about families. New shows like “The Goldberg”, “The Wonder Years”, “Black-ish”, or “Modern Family” are all great binge-worthy shows, that families can watch together.
8) Next Day Releases
Possibly one of the most frustrating issues with Disney+ is how Disney Channel and National Geographic channel content is released onto Disney+.
In the past year, we’ve seen the Disney Channel use multiple strategies to release new content on Disney+, they’ve released some things on the same day (Chrismas Again), sometimes a week later (Under Wraps), in batches after they’ve aired (Gabby Duran and the Unsittables), in batches before they’ve aired (The Ghost And Molly McGee) and even weekly after they’ve aired (Secrets Of Sulphur Springs). If someone asked me when a new Disney Channel episode or film will be added to Disney+, I’d never be able to guess because it changes for every project.
But, for the ABC or Freeform channels, it’s simple. It’s on Hulu the next day. They even actually promote it on their advertising for the shows. Something they’ve been very opposed to doing with Disney Channel/National Geographic.
A straightforward system could make all the difference and provide Disney+ with regular original content and, more importantly, gain more viewers because of a clearer understanding of when it’s available.
Internationally, it’s actually even more frustrating, as often the Disney Channel doesn’t even exist, so new content is literally being held back from release, that could be released at the same time as in the US. But often, it isn’t. Global releases are possible. We see them every week with Disney+ Originals. Disney Channel and Nat Geo shows should be treated the same, released in every country simultaneously.
9) Better Collections
Every now and again, Disney+ will add a new collection, highlighting a selection of films and shows, with a specific theme. But some of these collections aren’t available globally and are locked, which often doesn’t make any sense since the content is available.
But more importantly, some of the collections are just very generic and haven’t been updated much in years. It would be a great way of increasing the searchability within the app with better collections, including offering films and shows by decades, brands and much more. One of the most popular collections was “Disney Throughout The Years”, but that was removed when Star launched and has been mentioned by readers of this site almost weekly since it was removed.
Especially internationally, as the selection of collections is relatively poor for anything within the Star brand. With thousands of movies and shows available, there are just a handful of collections. There are so many collections that could be added, such as sitcoms, binge shows, vampires, or even collections for brands like 20th Century Studios, Searchlight, FX or ABC. The collections generally haven’t had much attention since Star launched.
10) More Classic Content
And finally, something people really feel passionate about, Disney+ is still missing thousands of titles from the Walt Disney vault. There are hundreds of classic 20th Century Studios films from the early years that are nowhere to be seen, or dozens of Disney Channel shows missing. While Disney is slowly adding some of them to Disney+. It’s been extremely slow.
Recently I compared Disney+ to being a house. Instead of going out and spending money-making new shows and films all the time, maybe they should go have a look in the garage or loft and see what you’ve already got that you could use.
Disney has such an incredible library of films and shows, but many of them are held up from being added to Disney+ for various reasons. This could be due to music rights, legal issues, existing contracts, quality issues etc. But it seems odd that Disney just hasn’t set up a team to focus on sorting this out. They are sat on so much content, but it’s just gathering dust in the vault.
What would you do to improve Disney+? Comment below: