Disney+ Won't Let Users Keep Downloaded Content After It Leaves the Platform [Updated]

Update 10/24 5:16 PM: A Disney spokesperson replying to Gizmodo’s request for confirmation told us that Disney CEO Bob Iger comments were misinterpreted when he said, “if you are a subscriber, you can download [content] and put it on a device and it will stay on that device as long as you continue to subscribe.” According to the spokesperson, some films on the Disney+ service will go away at certain times and be unavailable to subscribers even if they’ve downloaded the file.

When asked about which titles will leave and which will be available for download, the spokesperson said that most Disney content—except a small number with pre-existing licensing agreements—will remain on the service and will not leave. If you download it, it’s yours to watch for as long as you have a subscription. But downloaded content that leaves the service will not remain on a device after it goes.

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Disney+ is making a more compelling case for itself seemingly by the day as it nears its release date. In yet another impressive reveal about the service, Walt Disney Company chief Bob Iger said this week that the enormous soon-to-launch streaming service will allow users to keep content on their devices even after it leaves the streaming service.

Iger offered the assurance about accessibility to Disney+ content in a conversation with Vanity Fair’s editor-in-chief Radhika Jones and The Mandalorian creator Jon Favreau at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit this week. Asked whether legacy content introduced on Disney+ would stay on the platform or return to the Disney vault, Iger replied that “virtually all” of Disney’s massive library will be available on the platform, though there are “some encumbrances from deals that we had, legacy deals that we had before, which will prevent some of it from being on initially.”

Iger further said that while these deals would cause some of Disney’s content to leave the platform for “brief periods of time,” you’ll be able to download that content onto a device where it will remain so long as your Disney+ account is active. This would give Disney+ a leg up on other services with which it has licensing agreements to make any downloads of a series or film available to Disney+ subscribers. It’s a neat feature for fans of service, but certainly also highlights the unique position Disney is in as it muscles its way into the streaming game. If it can still offer—at least through downloads—content that may otherwise compel users to subscribe elsewhere, Disney+ could already be in better shape than some of its streaming giant competitors that are constantly looking to snap up or retain licensed legacy content.

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Of course, Disney has a leg up on many of its competitors on other fronts. Its catalog of original content alone puts it in a unique position over companies attempting to churn out new originals to satisfy consumers (ahem, Netflix). But taken together with its domination of other franchises it’s brought under its umbrella—namely beloved and legacy franchises like Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, National Geographic—Disney+ is shaping up to be a beast of a service. Plus, Iger reiterated that the goal for the service is not to churn out a lot of original content—as has been the goal for services like Netflix—but rather good content, a tactic that Apple also claims it’s using for its own service.

Iger explained why the competition sucks while claiming that he was in no way saying that the competition sucks:

I think the big difference for us ... is that we’re focusing on these great creative brands and we’re using them as navigational tools for the consumer. That really is the big difference. And in our case, it’s a little bit less of a volume play. It’s not about how much we are making, it’s about what we are making. And that is not in any way meant to cast aspersions at [the] competition—they’ve done an incredible job at seeding the marketplace and creating a product that I think is very, very good for the consumer—but our approach is very different.

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Got that? Disney and Apple want to make a little bit of good content, Netflix wants to make a lot of bad content, and these are both great approaches for consumers because some consumers might want a lot of a shitty thing.

Elsewhere in the interview, Iger discussed the thinking behind offering the service upfront for a mere $7 per month, confirming that the company is prioritizing scale first and foremost at launch. Three things, he said, influenced the entry price point: reaching scale, making the product accessible to a global network of viewers, and competition. He also gave a nod to the fact that the service is being made free for a year to Verizon customers, again underscoring the company’s intention of reaching as many eyeballs as quickly as possible. (The company has separately been luring users with multi-year subscriptions that shake out to as little as $4 per pop.)

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We’ll see if all this Disney+ talk can walk the walk at launch on November 12.

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