Hisense TV owners left behind as Disney+ launches in Australia

Hisense VIDAA

Hisense VIDAA

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

Disney's streaming service is finally here but if you own a Hisense TV, you might have to put those plans to binge The Mandalorian on hold.

Launched in Australia earlier this week, Disney's streaming service is available on almost everywhere. You can watch it on mobile, tablet, a web browser, game consoles, Android and Apple TV plus televisions manufactured by the likes of LG and Samsung.

However, as generous as the the service's initial rollout isn't without blind spots. Specifically, Hisense TVs that run on the company's proprietary VIDAA U operating system.

At present, there's no Disney+ app available on VIDAA U. This means that, if you own a VIDAA-powered Hisense TV, you won't be able to revisit the service's 29 seasons of The Simpsons quite yet.

When asked by PC World about the status of a Disney+ app for VIDAA U, Hisense told us that "future availability of the Disney+ streaming service on Hisense televisions is yet to be confirmed."

I don't own a Hisense TV myself but if you do, I doubt the above statement is going to inspire much confidence.

It's not a "We're working on it", a "Disney+ is coming soon" or even a "Disney+ will be coming to your TV eventually." If you're an otherwise-satisfied Hisense customer keen to get stuck into The World According to Jeff Goldblum, this statement tell you nothing.

It's important to note here that Hisense do offer a select set of Series G TVs that run on Android TV - which does support Disney+. However, the vast majority of the TVs that make up Hisenses' current (and past) lineup are powered by their own operating system.

The manufacturer only introduced the Chromecast-enabled models earlier this year, so if you bought your existing Hisense TV in 2016, 2017 or 2018 - you're out of luck.

Now, in fairness, it's not technically impossible to watch Disney+ on a Hisense TV. You could plug in a third part device like a Chromecast, Apple TV or Nvidia's Shield TV and get around the limitations of the hardware that way.

Here's the thing though: you shouldn't have to.

A big part of the appeal of buying a fancy TV that runs on a smart TV operating system like VIDAA U is that it can be easily updated to meet the evolving demands of users. You don't necessarily need to replace your TV every few years. In a perfect world, things would just get better over time via software updates.

Neither manufacturers or customers are buying these TVs with the assumption that the Netflix or Amazon Prime Video app will be the last or only streaming service they'll ever watch on it, nor was the launch of Disney+ anything close to a big surprise. It's been the source of consumer attention and anticipation for the last twelve months.

Hisense had tons of time to prepare for the launch of Disney+ and, at face value, it seems like they just didn't care enough to bother. 

In addition, and from what we can tell, it doesn't look VIDAA U supports Apple TV+ at this time either.

That means this isn't just a one-off, it's a pattern of negligence. If you're going to have your own proprietary solution rather than something more open like Android TV, you have to invest in keeping it relevant as the needs of users change - and, by most metrics, Hisense just aren't doing that.

A week after it launched in the US, Disney+ looks to be a roaring success and the next-generation of Hisense TVs will certainly include some kind of support for the service. They'd be foolish not to.

But the incapability or unwillingness by Hisense to make it easy for their existing customers to watch a new service like Disney+ at launch is absolutely something that you should consider before buying one of their new, shiny, cheaper-than-you expect TVs.

You'd be foolish not to.

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Fergus Halliday
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