Disney Plus Premier Access: An A+ in UX

It’s the little things.

Like countless others this July 9th, I was waiting in anticipation for Marvel’s Black Widow. Instead of planning a trip to the local theater, however, I was reaching for the remote, ready to order “premier access” to the latest MCU update. I say this as a die-hard lover of theaters ever since childhood: they need to innovate. Seriously, I love theaters more than practically any other local venue. I practically ran to the theater to watch A Quiet Place Part II and when I walked out of that dark room, I walked away with a new disdain for something I appreciated for so long. The pandemic pulled the wool off of my eyes: constant chattering, plastic wrapper crinkling, purse shuffling, try-hard loudmouths cracking jokes, late arrivals loudly finding their seats. All this in a movie titled “a quiet place,” but I doubt anyone appreciated the irony in that theater. So, when given the choice between that and the comfort, privacy, and control of my own home, I was eager to give this whole home theater thing a try.

And boy, was I delighted!

It all started with the Disney+ app on my smart TV. The home screen has a large banner you are already selecting. When you click it, it takes you to a page with one CTA: a themed (red) button to purchase premier access. Some helpful text nearby on the price. The experience feels like the movies, even more than the actual theater. I always thought Netflix did the best job in the market at showcasing and really making the experience of seeing a film pop but, while I still do think they have a better overall UI, this one screen — it is important that it is one dedicated, customized screen — makes me second guess.

Upon clicking the CTA, you are directed to follow a link on your phone. On deeper thought, this makes sense; entering credit card information via TV sounds like a huge pain. Why not take advantage of customers’ phones which likely already have payment information filled in? When you visit the link, you are greeted by another customized screen, matching seamlessly with the one earlier. This makes the entire process feel “Disney” and you never lose track of what you’re doing or — more importantly — the feeling of getting to see a movie, even when you are switching between devices. The site has all your payment information filled in already (since you logged in) and all you have to do is enter your security code. This is almost trivially small but let me talk about this too.

You don’t want the user to have to enter all the information. That’s annoying and a time waster since you already have all their payment information saved. Then again, you do want to have them enter something, for two reasons. One, it puts them in control, even in the most minute way, of paying for what they’re buying. Generally, people want to have control over their money no matter what the price is. Two, it helps the experience feel not, for lack of a better word, shady. When we’re paying for something, we are generally suspicious of schemes where there is no confirmation or further action required after clicking “buy.” You can feel free to disagree with me on this, but next time you’re paying for something, pay attention to what actions are required from you, whether it’s double tapping the side button on your phone, entering a security code, or signing a bill. I would venture and say that these confirmations make us feel more secure in our payments.

After purchasing this, my TV screen refreshes to show me the final button where I can watch Black Widow. The process was customized to this movie so nowhere along the way did it feel generic or cookie cutter, even though it was also consistent with Disney+ branding. It was seamless, even between devices. It was fast, while not feeling cheap or too easy. Since I anticipated the movie so much, I liked the fact that it wasn’t just reduced to one button. I’m sure there are technical details behind this as well, but it improved the UX in my opinion regardless of the reason.

The UX of buying “premier access” to a movie on Disney+ honestly impressed me for the simplest, and yet the most important, ways. It makes me question my own earlier assertions that Netflix was simply and perpetually the king of streaming, and it opens my eyes to how much room for improvement there really is. As they say: it’s the little things!

Coder, writer, dreamer, memer, and former Webizen.