Tuesday saw the debut of Disney's (DIS 0.01%) long-awaited streaming service Disney+ in the U.S., Canada, and the Netherlands. Fans and investors alike have eagerly anticipated the company's direct-to-consumer platform. The latest entry into the streaming wars was priced at $6.99 per month or $69.99 per year, and the Disney marketing machine switched into overdrive to whip up support.
Demand surged early, as potential customers on the East Coast flooded the site, with the majority able to sign up and log on seamlessly. Disney was apparently surprised by the volume, and some users experienced a variety of technical glitches that tainted the company's first day of streaming.
Customers overwhelm the platform
It isn't surprising that Disney+ would initially experience issues, considering the sheer magnitude of its potential customer base. A survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers in August found that 43% planned to subscribe to Disney+ according to the UBS Evidence Lab. With more than 127 million households in the U.S. alone, there are likely millions of hardcore Disney fans flooding the site at once.
Users took to social media to complain about a variety of technical problems. Some reported being unable to connect to the service, while others had problems accessing specific content -- like The Simpsons or The Mandalorian. Some saw characters from Disney's Wreck-It Ralph and Ralph Breaks the Internet movies, with the caption: "Unable to connect to Disney+. There seems to be an issue connecting to the Disney+ service. Please try again later if the issue persists." Others reported an image of Mickey Mouse and an error message: "We are having a problem. Please exit the app and try again."
It isn't all bad news
Disney said it is "working quickly" to address the issues customers are having with Disney+. In a statement on Twitter, the company said:
The demand for #DisneyPlus has exceeded our highest expectations. We are so pleased you're excited to watch all your favorites and are working quickly to resolve any current issues. We appreciate your patience.
Consumers who were able to access the platform, however, had high praise. One user tweeted, "#DisneyPlus just released and it looks FANTASTIC!" Another wrote, "I swear on everything that is Holy Disney Plus has my subscription for life! Absolutely EVERYTHING from my childhood is HERE!!!! #DisneyPlus."
All part of the process
Disney executives apparently expected some launch-day issues. Kevin Mayer, the chairman of Disney's direct-to-consumer and international unit, predicted as much last week when he said, "There are always technical glitches, and you can always improve the technical performance of any service like this."
Disney isn't the first company -- and certainly won't be the last -- to experience glitches or crashes, as even the most experienced tech giant occasionally falls victim. In 2014, AT&T unit HBO saw its app overwhelmed by the magnitude of fans trying to watch the season premiere of its hit show Game of Thrones, causing the site to crash. The HBO Go app had also buckled just weeks earlier as viewers tuned in en masse to watch the season finale of True Detective.
These types of technical glitches are to be expected, particularly with the enormous appeal of a Disney-branded service. The good news here is that even with a high degree of confidence going in, the demand still exceeded the company's expectations, and that should be music to the ears of Disney shareholders.