This week, Disney Interactive rolled out a new app available on the Xbox Live platform for the 360. This is not their first Xbox app experience. In January 2012, Disney released an app that was only available in Canada for their Disney XD show line-up. They join a rather limited list of TV networks who have built custom app experiences for the Xbox. The CW Network was one of the most recent launches which I covered in a post earlier this month. With 46 million users on the Xbox Live platform worldwide, the move by Disney to expand their presence is certainly a worthy initiative. They join other kid friendly TV viewing apps on the Xbox like National Geographic, Toys R Us Movies, and Sesame Street.
Rather than roll out separate Xbox app for their primary, XD, and Junior channels – like they do for mobile devices – they have combined all three levels of programming into one single experience for the console. In addition to TV shows, Disney provides video selections from their YouTube channels including Disney Vault, Disney Shorts, and Disney Pets and Animals. Navigation wise, the Xbox app is very similar to other existing TV channel viewing apps on the platform. At the present time, the Xbox app does not require cable/satellite authentication in order to view programming. The fact the channel is new combined with the lack of authentication may explain the relatively limited programming options currently available. The “Movies” area doesn’t actually offer the ability to view full length films. It does, however, provide Disney a place to share behind the scenes clips and trailers for upcoming releases in both the theater and those new to Disney Blu-Ray/DVD.
The TV show line-up and selection of episodes does somewhat resemble the content available in the mobile/tablet apps if a user does not authenticate a cable or satellite subscription. Once authenticated in those three viewing apps (Primary, XD, and Junior), a much larger collection of on demand streaming options is made available including the ability to watch content currently being broadcast on-air – Disney XD iPad app pictured. All three of the tablet apps are excellent examples of network created TV everywhere extensions, highlighted by the inclusion of live streaming of the channels alongside on-demand content catalogs.
The Xbox Disney app does not currently contain any second screen viewing content through the SmartGlass app and is not mentioned in the official press releases from Disney. None of the three Disney TV channels offer companion viewing content on their dedicated TV everywhere apps either. Disney does however participate in the second screen movement, but the options are currently only limited to a few recent film releases to Disney Blu-Ray. It will be interesting to see if the Xbox app content expands to include streaming of films and if Disney will port over their second screen content to the Smart Glass app.
As the Xbox One launch approaches, more and more networks will likely join Disney with dedicated network experiences. An expansion of their Xbox app to include MVPD authentication in order to provide users access to a deeper line-up of on demand content is a much needed and almost critical addition to transform this into a viable destination channel. Disney has a wide selection of games available in the form of smaller scale mobile apps and a terrific console game line-up for the Xbox 360. I would love to see Disney work with Microsoft to build a much richer and broader experience for the platform to include those other digital game assets which would enhance discovery for users. This first iteration may not be the most complete experience, but it is great to see the Interactive team at Disney continuing their TV everywhere expansion with the launch of a new Xbox channel.