Disney+ is dropping the ball badly in South Africa

Numerous South African Disney+ users have cried foul over the plethora of glitches and technical issues plaguing the service since its local launch in May 2022.

Despite the wave of complaints and pleas for Walt Disney Africa to rectify the issues, many of the bugs have persisted for over two months.

While the Disney+ app has received several updates on various platforms since launch that fixed some bugs, users have also complained the updates introduced new issues.

The South African Disney+ app’s ratings and reviews on the Google Play Store and Apple App Store paint a bleak picture of the state of the service.

At the time of publication, Android users had given it a 2.6 out of 5. iOS users had awarded an even lower rating of 2.1 out of 5.

“Disney+ has a nice library of shows to enjoy, but the user experience has been nothing but infuriating,” said one user.

“From random crashes, failure to download and refusing to log me in, it’s safe to say that it’s a real struggle to watch anything on the app reliably.”

“For an entity the size of Disney, to develop an app this bad, is embarrassing,” another said.

The app’s ratings are particularly concerning when stacked up against rival streaming services.

It is also substantially worse than the ratings given to the Disney+ app rolled out in the US and much of the rest of the company’s markets.

The table below compares the ratings of the Disney+ app in South Africa with the US version and other popular streaming apps.

Video streaming services mobile app ratings 
Service Google Play Store Apple App Store
Disney+ Hotstar South Africa app 2.6 2.1
Disney+ International app 4.0 4.5
Netflix 4.5 4.0
Amazon Prime Video 4.3 4.7
Showmax 4.5 4.7
BritBox 3.4 4.1

The dissatisfaction is not limited to the mobile app stores. Numerous South Africans have voiced their frustrations on social media about Disney+’s performance on other platforms.

One of the most common complaints is that video playback on the service buffers even while connected to a fast Internet connection and that titles freeze in a loading loop when skipping forward or backward.

In-depth tests performed by Marco Cocomello from Glitched.online also showed the service rarely streams at 4K resolution, regardless of users’ quality settings.

“After testing over 10 devices, I discovered that Disney+ only streams at 4K on a select few devices,” Cocomello wrote.

Cocomello said it was disappointing to discover that Disney+ runs at 720p on some of the latest TVs on the market, while on others, the app doesn’t even offer a 4K option.

Some of the other issues highlighted by users on various platforms include:

Android TV

  • Titles restart from the beginning after resuming. User has to return to the Home page and then click on the title again to go back to the current timestamp.
  • Can’t clear titles from “Continue Watching” section on TV. Have to use the browser to remove them.
  • When selecting resume, the video tools overlay is shown. Pressing back to remove overlay freezes title.
  • No English subtitles available in certain movies. In the case of Death on the Nile, it leaves non-French-speaking audiences with no idea what the characters are saying at the start of the film.

Mobile

  • Data consumption required before previously downloaded list of content shows loads, rendering offline watching feature useless.
  • No “Continue Watching” section for TV shows and “Continue Watching” for movies randomly disappears.
  • Titles do not resume at timestamp where user stopped watching.
  • App freezes during streaming, forcing restart.
  • No landscape navigation during browsing and casting.
  • No picture-in-picture mode.
  • Bad video and audio quality despite having a fast Internet connection.
  • Random forward skipping by 5-10 seconds during normal playback.
  • App filling up multiple gigabytes in cache.

Other platforms

  • Streaming resolution capped at 720p HD on the DStv Explora Ultra.
  • Audio of one title keeps playing back despite exiting the title and the Disney+ app. Only fixed when restarting the app. This has been fixed on some platforms, including Apple TV.
  • App interface glitches on Nvidia Shield TV and has limited title selection.
  • No support on Hisense VIDAA U, PlayStation, or Xbox operating systems. Disney is working on adding more platforms, but customers are frustrated the South African app doesn’t have the breadth of support as the UK app.

Many users have questioned why the company had chosen to use the version of its app developed for India and Asia Pacific and not the US-based version used in many of the company’s other markets.

Disney previously told MyBroadband that the Hotstar team in India has vast knowledge of launching services not just in India but across Asia.

South Africa was the first market Disney+ launched in for the next phase of its expansion and presents an excellent location to test the robustness of the service as we have an immense range of devices in the market. These include many older devices and different versions of streaming and casting products.

Although South Africa and India have among the best content libraries of any of the markets, the functionality of this version has seen heavy criticism online.

The monthly price of R119 that South Africans have to pay is also much closer to the US price of $7.99 (R132.75) than the Indian price of 299 rupees (R62.87) for Disney+ Hotstar Premium, which includes live sports streaming.

Walt Disney Africa did not provide official comment to MyBroadband but resolved some of the bugs we initially reported.

Based on the frequency of updates to its apps, the Hotstar team is continually working on resolving the bugs subscribers have experienced.

However, with many subscribers going two months without some of their critical issues being addressed, their frustration is understandable.

Disney+ subscribers are encouraged to contact the service’s call centre at 010 500 2239 or use help.disneyplus.com to report issues experienced with the service.

For those who continue to be unhappy with the service, the customer centre can also refund eligible customers their subscription.


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Disney+ is dropping the ball badly in South Africa