The servers were unable to keep up with two kinds of demand, this person added: people trying to sign up for the Disney+ service for the first time; and subscribers who had signed up ahead of time, who were trying to watch videos. The specific server issue causing the problems appeared to be fixed by midday Tuesday, this person said.
Disney+ began presenting problems for some users almost as soon as it was launched Tuesday morning.
Disney has been under intense pressure to get this launch right. The company acquired BamTech, a streaming-technology company, to build the app’s technical infrastructure, and is spending hundreds of millions of dollars producing movies and television shows for the service. The new emphasis on a streaming service meant to be viewed from home represents a strategic pivot for a company that until now has been most successful in getting people to movie theaters and theme parks.
The creaky rollout speaks to what many in Hollywood consider a chief liability of Disney’s push into streaming: the company’s lack of technical experience.
Disney has a rocky history with digital initiatives. It bought BamTech, an early online video-technology leader that grew out of Major League Baseball, to fast track its construction of the new service. But industry executives say the company is still catching up to engineering-focused operations such as Netflix Inc.
Disney+ has been marketed to users for months, and many of those trying to watch on Tuesday bought three-year subscriptions to the service at a significant discount. Users signing up now can either pay $6.99 a month or an annual rate of $69.99 after a seven-day trial.
Complaints about Disney+ glitches peaked on social media around 9 a.m. on the East Coast but fell as the day went on, according to Storyful, a social-media intelligence firm that is owned by News Corp, the parent company of The Wall Street Journal.
Disney+ is “one of the most important initiatives we’ve ever engaged,” Disney Chief Executive Robert Iger said at a preview presentation of the service last week. “Obviously, the public will vote,” he said.
Siobhan Ramos, a 36-year-old mother of two in Lakeland, Fla., tried to get Disney+ to work on an Xbox, a smart TV, her children’s tablets and a laptop.
“It just would let us scroll, but it wouldn’t let us play anything,” Mrs. Ramos said.
She called a help line listed on the Disney+ website, but each time she did, the call was canceled or it sounded like someone had answered and hung up, she said.
Mrs. Ramos and her family—“super Disney fans,” she said, with an “Avengers”-themed room in their house and annual passes to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla.—signed up for a three-year, discounted subscription to Disney+. They already had Netflix, but when they saw the programming that would be available on Disney+, “we canceled our cable and we got this instead,” she said.
After a few hours of not working, Disney+ began streaming shows for her, she said, but would occasionally stop. One of her sons was watching a live-action remake of “Dumbo” early Tuesday morning. “I’m afraid to turn it off in case it stops working again,” she said. Several hours later, Mrs. Ramos said the service was working.
Some parents complained that the glitchy launch had an ironic quality: After widespread snowstorms overnight, many schools were closed, causing an unusual number of children to be home from school on a weekday.
Elsewhere, an attempt to watch the “Star Wars” spinoff “The Mandalorian” was met with a loading page that lasted for more than three hours and still didn’t result in the show starting. Other users said online that their attempts to watch a movie or TV show were met with error messages that said, “There seems to be an issue connecting to the Disney+ service.”
The error messages appeared with animated Disney figures such as Pluto and characters from “Ralph Breaks the Internet.” A thread of comments on Reddit dedicated to Disney+ technical-support issues had over 1,000 comments on Tuesday morning.
Disney users’ public complaints appeared to show the service was struggling with log-in errors, profile glitches and unavailable content, said Dan Rayburn, a streaming-media analyst for Frost & Sullivan.
“It’s not the actual video that’s the problem,” Mr. Rayburn said. “The stream worked fine, but people couldn’t get to the stream because the website has issues.”
Disney launched a trial version of Disney+ in the Netherlands earlier this year to gauge consumer demand and iron out technical kinks. Users there offered generally positive reviews but complained about a few features, such as low volume and an inability to resume playing a program where it had left off.
New streaming services often hit snags when they are launched. AT&T Inc. offered refunds to customers who paid to watch a 2018 pay-per-view golf match between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, after the company’s streaming-video portal locked out some viewers.
Engineers later determined that the website’s credit-card processing system didn’t have enough server capacity to handle the crush of viewers trying to watch the live event, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Such temporary annoyances rarely do lasting damage to streaming-video brands. It is often hard to spot the weak link in a company’s infrastructure until it is tested by hordes of users, said Colin Petrie-Norris, chief executive of Xumo LLC, an ad-supported streaming-TV service based in Irvine, Calif. But once engineers identify the issue, he said, “these problems are not particularly difficult to solve.” - WSJ
Content licensed from The Wall Street Journal.
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