Streaming service Disney+ launched Tuesday morning to massive anticipation — and technical glitches.
Many users who tried to access the $6.99-a-month Disney app to watch heavily promoted shows like “The Mandalorian” experienced problems logging in and service failures. Some users who had issues complained on social media about long wait times to speak with customer service reps.
Disney blamed the problems on higher-than-expected demand for the product, which executives have been touting as the future of the entertainment company.
“The consumer demand for Disney+ has exceeded our highest expectations,” a Disney spokesperson said in a statement to The Times. “While we are pleased by this incredible response, we are aware of the current user issues and are working to swiftly resolve them. We appreciate your patience.”
Disney has not revealed viewership numbers for its service or individual shows.
It’s unclear how many people were affected or how many customers tried to use the app in the hours shortly after it went live in the U.S. and Canada. More than 8,000 people were having issues at about 6 a.m., according to data firm Downdetector.
The app also officially launched in the Netherlands on Tuesday, and will debut in Australia and New Zealand later this month and much of Western Europe in March. The company has been testing the service in the Netherlands with a free beta version since September.
The glitches caused angry responses from frustrated customers.
Some people who tried to log on were greeted by an image of “Wreck-It Ralph” and “Ralph Breaks the Internet” characters Ralph and Vanellope von Schweetz with the message, “There seems to be an issue connecting to the Disney+ service.”
The stakes for Disney+ are high. The company is trying to battle Netflix and other players for dominance in the increasingly crowded direct-to-consumer entertainment market as cord-cutting sweeps the pay TV industry.
Disney executives, including direct-to-consumer chairman Kevin Mayer, told journalists last week that the company had been working tirelessly to make sure the launch went smoothly. The company waged a massive marketing effort for the services, spanning Disney parks, stores and every TV channel the Burbank company owns. Disney paid more than $2.5 billion to acquire BamTech, the little-known technology firm that provided the architecture of Disney’s push into streaming.
The app boasts more than 7,500 episodes of Disney television content, more than 500 movies, and dozens of original shows, films and specials, including a live-action version of “Lady and the Tramp.” Disney is expected to spend $1 billion on original content for the service in fiscal 2020. The company has projected 60 million to 90 million subscribers will be using Disney+ by 2024.