Disney+ and Netflix couldn’t be more different

Disney appeared to drop a bomb on Netflix this week by announcing a $13-per-month bundle for all its streaming services. When it launches on November 12, the package will include Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+, all for the same price as Netflix’s most popular plan. (Disney+ will cost $7 per month on its own, while Hulu and ESPN+ will be priced at $6 per month and $5 per month respectively if purchased separately.)

Reporters and analysts quickly cast the Disney+ bundle as an assault on Netflix, which makes sense on some level. No two companies quite capture the clash between old and new media like Disney versus Netflix, and both companies will be competing for precious time and money in the age of cord-cutting.

Lost in the rivalry narrative, however, is that Disney+ and Netflix will have little in common. From pricing and packaging to advertising and the content itself, the two companies are taking opposite approaches to almost every aspect of streaming video.

Different packaging

By design, each of Disney’s streaming services targets a separate audience, or at least discrete tastes. Disney+ focuses on hit franchises with family appeal, such as the Star Wars and Marvel franchises; Hulu is more for mature audiences, with series like The Handmaid’s Tale; and ESPN+ is for diehard sports fans. It’s reasonable to assume that some people will pass on Disney’s bundle deal and subscribe to whichever service best aligns with their preferences.

Whereas Disney is offering some semblance of an a la carte service—with a big discount for bundling everything together—Netflix is more like an all-you-can-eat buffet. Although it doesn’t offer any sports content, it tries to combine kids shows, family-friendly fare, and mature programming into one bundle. Netflix’s price tiers are instead based on video quality and the number of simultaneous streams a subscriber is allowed, and the company has said that it’s committed to this flat-fee structure for the long haul.

Different approaches to content

The main attractions for Disney+ are recognizable franchises and brands, with content from the Star Wars and Marvel universes, films from Disney and Pixar, every episode of The Simpsons (thanks to its acquisition of 21st Century Fox), and content from National Geographic Partners (ditto). Disney even announced this week that it’s going to remake Home Alone for the service.

By contrast—and by necessity—Netflix is taking a different approach. Since it can’t lean on a stable of historic franchises, it’s looking to build up its own through deals with big-name creators. The company acquired comic book publisher Millarworld two years ago (with founder Mark Millar being praised as a “modern day Stan Lee” in Netflix’s press release), and also bought the rights to the Extreme Universe comics in hopes of having its own brand of superheroes. Netflix has also brought in TV creators such as Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal) and Ryan Murphy (American Horror Story, Pose) for multi-year deals. It even has a multi-year production deal with Barack and Michelle Obama. The resulting content will look a lot different from what’s available on Disney+ or even on Hulu.

Different attitudes toward advertising

Over the years, Netflix has insisted that it will never have commercials. Although the company isn’t above product placements as a way to defray production costs or cross-promote its service with big brands, interruption-free viewing is one of Netflix’s key selling points.