On-demand streaming service Disney+ began accepting subscribers in the United States and Canada this week, but northern residents signing up expressed concern about a lack of means to readily control data usage.
Almost all residents of northern Canadian communities have a monthly cap on the data they are able to use before overage fees are charged. Unlimited plans, common elsewhere, barely exist in the Northwest Territories – though service provider Northwestel says that could soon change.
Launched on Tuesday, Disney+ is the Walt Disney Company's long-awaited rival to services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Crave.
The Disney+ mobile app offers straightforward options to limit data usage, allowing users downloading shows to choose between three file sizes.
However, users of Disney+ on consoles and smart TVs reported difficulty identifying any option to limit the data used when streaming via the service.
On discussion websites like Reddit, several new Disney+ subscribers asked similar questions but no solutions were immediately identified.
The help section of the Disney+ website does include a question on the topic – "How do I change the video playback settings on Disney+?" – but the answer refers only to the mobile app.
"While using Disney+ on your mobile app, select the profile icon and choose App Settings to find controls for video playback settings," the website states. The options presented allow mobile app users to control cellular data usage, how content is downloaded, and the video quality of those downloads.
Aimee Chase, a Fort Providence resident, wrote directly to the Disney+ Facebook page: "People with data limits can't afford to have everything stream in HD. Gonna test it out for the week and see what kind of toll it takes on my internet bill. Sadly I can't stay a paying customer if it results in crazy data overages."
Reigh-Leigh Foster DeBaie, commenting on Chase's public post to Disney+, added: "I'm extremely disappointed right now. I was so looking forward to watching all of these exciting shows and movies.
"Without being able to lower the streaming quality I won't be able to use this much, if at all. I already prepaid for the whole year, but I think I will have to ask for a refund now that I see I can't lower the quality."
Other services, like Netflix and some Amazon Prime iterations, provide options for subscribers to select a lower streaming quality in order to save data.
At launch, Disney+ is available on Android, Android TV, iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Chromecast, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Roku, and a range of smart TVs. Subscriptions cost $8.99 monthly.
The Disney+ mobile app was reportedly downloaded more than three million times – a tenth of those downloads coming in Canada – in its opening 24 hours on the Android and Apple app stores.