As promised, the Disney+ streaming service launched today offering a compelling selection of PG-13 or softer original and library content from the company’s significant collection of content assets.

And from our brief experience this morning signing up with the Verizon one-year-free service offer and activating the app on several Roku devices, the process was smooth and painless. {However, not all users were experiencing the same smooth process, with many reporting difficulties and outages in online complaints. This is likely a result of heavy first day traffic.}

In addition to adding the standalone service, viewers may also elect to subscribe to a linked bundle of Disney streaming services including Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu for $12.99 per month.

The service offers nearly 500 movies and 7,500 TV shows, for a $6.99 monthly subscription fee or $69.99 per year. Additionally, Verizon is offering a free year of Disney+ to users of its unlimited data mobile plans, 5G Home Internet plan and certain Verizon FiOS broadband plans.

For those Verizon customers taking the free-year offer, access to Disney+ is available via various devices after registering first with Verizon and then activating the Disney+ service with a supplied access number.

For, example, anyone with a qualifying Verizon account and a Roku device can register for the Disney+ offer and then activiate the Disney+ account as instructed by a supplied email. Following that Roku users will find the Disney+ app in the Roku Channel Store. After installation of the app, pre-registered users can sign in with the user name and password they selected through the Verzion/Disney activation process.

Other Roku users can only subscribe to the direct channel service on the Roku platform, a Roku spokesperson told us.

If subscribed on Roku using Roku Pay, the user will be billed through the Roku user’s account. If a user signs up for Disney+ off-platform (not through Roku), he/she can sign into Disney+ on a Roku device using their Disney+ credentials.

The user interface is well laid out–not dissimilar to Netflix or Amazon Prime–and categorized by Disney’s various studio assets and partners. Many of the movies and original programs are offered in up to 4K Ultra HD with HDR10 or Dolby Vision high dynamic range profiles. Dolby Atmos 3D surround sound is also available with select titles.

Performing a quick test we found video and sound from the Star Wars Rogue One movie, for example, is clear, colorful and presents a nice wide range of contrast for supporting televisions. As with most advanced streaming content, sound was offered in Dolby Digital Plus surround sound format. For Dolby Atmos soundtracks, the additional 3D spatial effects, like over-head channels, are added on top of this.

The “Star Wars” section of the service offers a suite of the classic movies from the epic Sci-fi/Sci-fantasy franchise, including a brand new series called The Mandalorian.

As for supporting devices, confirming Disney’s previous disclosure, Samsung announced today that owners of certain of its Smart TVs now have access to the Disney+ streaming app through their Tizen OS smart TV platform. But there are some qualifiers including the fact that Disney+ can only be accessed by 2016 through 2019 Samsung Smart TV models. Owners of older sets will need a Disney supporting media adapter like a Roku streaming device, Fire TV stick, NVIDIA Shield TV or supporting PlayStation or Xbox gaming console.

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Owners of supporting Samsung smart TVs will find the Disney+ app in the app library on the Tizen OS platform in the TV.

Samsung Smart TVs, the company reminded this morning, offer a variety of content and discovery tools to find and watch favorite content. The Universal Guide provides a unified browsing experience across all sources and offers customized recommendations about what to watch. Additionally, users will be able to leverage the Bixby feature on 2019 QLED TVs to easily control their TVs and access their content through voice commands.

Similarly, owners of many LG webOS smart TVs from the last four years and select Amazon Fire TVs, Fire TV adapters and Fire tablets will also find their televisions supporting the Disney+ app today. LG TV owners will be able to enjoy searching for Disney+ content included among thousands of cross-platform options in program searches and recommendations using the LG AI ThinQ engine.

The Disney+ Android App is also supported on certain Android TV-enabled Smart TVs, including older Sharp Aquos sets, and most Sony Bravia models. The Disney+ Android App is also supported on various set-top boxes running the Android TV platform, including NVIDIA Shield TV devices.

Other devices supporting Disney+ streaming include: desktop computers, laptops, iPhones, iPads, Android smartphones, and Android tablets.

A Disney+ account will support a total of seven individual accounts, four of which can stream simultaneously.

By Greg Tarr

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