Today marked Disney’s long-anticipated debut into the streaming video universe with the launch of Disney+. For a little under $7/month (after a free 1 week trial), Disney+ offers an extensive library of child-friendly and family-friendly content that ranges from classic animated movies from the Disney “vault,” like Sleeping Beauty, Bambi, Snow White, and The Jungle Book; favorite live-action Disney classics like The Parent Trap and Old Yeller; popular movies from Pixar studios, like Brave, Cars, Incredibles 2, and Toy Story 3; original series from Disney Junior and Disney Channel like Little Einsteins, or The Wizards of Waverly Place; National Geographic nature documentaries; movies from the Star Wars and Marvel franchises; as well as some properties that came with Disney’s recent acquisition of Fox, like all 30 seasons of The Simpsons.
For safe family viewing, Disney+ may be one of the best streaming options currently available. Families who previously streamed Disney movies on Amazon Prime, Hulu or Netflix will be relieved to be able to browse a menu screen without seeing R- or MA-rated titles alongside child-friendly titles like Finding Dory. I have yet to come across any titles on Disney+ rated higher than PG-13.
But it is also important to remember that Disney+ was not designed exclusively for children. Disney executive Kevin Mayer said during a press briefing on Disney+ that “It’s incumbent upon us to market it the right way to emphasize the fact that it’s not just for kids… It’s all family friendly, but everyone can enjoy this product.”
If it’s not exclusively for kids, though, that means there is a good chance of finding content that is not appropriate for younger eyes or ears. So while there are ample child- and family-friendly titles available on this new streaming service, not all content is equally-well suited to all families. The mere fact that a program has been given a PG-rating is not necessarily a guarantee of its suitability for younger audiences, as PTC research has shown; and parents should be advised that the MPAA will allow one or two f-words in PG-13-rated movies, and does not blink at gore and violence in PG-rated movies. Titles from the Marvel and Star Wars franchises contain higher levels of violence; and some of the PG-13 titles may include harsher language or profanity; sexual innuendo or suggestive dialogue.
Which is why Disney+ is only an 80% solution for families. At this time, Disney+ apparently does not offer any parental controls to allow parents to block or filter content based on age-rating, or content descriptors.
There is much here for families to be excited about; and no doubt this service will be enthusiastically welcomed into many homes. But this service could be made even better with the addition of content filtering and parental controls.