Tech

Disney exec explains why Disney+ crashed on its first day

Key Points
  • When some users rushed to download Disney's new streaming service on its release day of Nov. 12, they were met with an unfortunate error message that read "unable to connect."
  • While the company first attributed the streaming issues to massive demand, a Disney executive now says that it was a "coding issue" that will require updates. 
  • "It was a coding issue and we are going to recode it," he said.
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A week after Disney+ launched amid widespread technical malfunctions that prevented some customers from accessing content, a Disney executive has chalked the problem up to a "coding issue."

While the company first attributed the streaming issues to massive demand, Kevin Mayer, Disney's chairman of direct-to-consumer, said Tuesday at Recode's Code Media conference that it was a technical matter that will require updates over the next couple of weeks.

When some users rushed to download Disney's new streaming service on its release day of Nov. 12, they were met with an unfortunate error message that read "unable to connect." The message, which appeared underneath characters from "Wreck-It Ralph," then forced users to exit the service and to try to reconnect at a later time. By 9 a.m. on launch day, more than 8,000 users were affected, according to Downdetector, a website where users can report problems on apps and websites.

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A Disney+ spokesperson attributed the problem at the time to demand that "exceeded our highest expectations." Disney announced that the service saw 10 million sign-ups one day after launch. But now the company is working to "recode" the app, Mayer said at the Code Conference.

"It's literally one part of the tech stack that we use in a certain way that we should use another way," Mayer said. "It had to do with a way we architected a piece of the app."

Disney acquired streaming technology firm BAMTech in 2017 for almost $3 billion and uses the streaming technology to power Disney+ and ESPN+. BAMTech has a history of working on major streaming services such as HBO Now and MLB.tv, but Mayer argued that the firm was not prepared for the tremendous traffic seen by Disney+ at launch.

"As prolific as BAMTech has been, we've never had demand like we saw that day and what we're continuing to see," Mayer said. "There were some limits to the architecture that we had in place were made apparent to us that weren't before."

"It was a coding issue and we are going to recode it."

Watch the entire interview with Mayer here: