How To Fix Disney Plus Not Streaming In 4K

One of the many nifty aspects of Disney+ is that much of the content housed there can be streamed in 4K. Of course, you must have a device that supports either Ultra HD or 4K to watch Disney+ content at that high of a resolution, but assuming that's the case, the app does the rest. Basically, Disney+ detects your television's or other device's compatibility and automatically plays the show or movie in 4K, if it's available — though, keep in mind that not every show and movie on Disney+ can currently be viewed in Ultra High Definition.

As is typical with most of our devices, we are prone to run into slight issues here and there. Case in point? Sometimes Disney+ streams at a lower resolution even though your device sports a 4K screen. More often than not, this problem is due to missing elements or problems on the user's end, such as the device not truly supporting 4K content or using an internet connection that can't support it.

Adjust your Disney+ data usage settings

Your streaming settings may explain why Disney+ isn't streaming in 4K on your device. Generally speaking, Disney+ automatically selects a resolution that's best for not only your system but also based on your internet speeds. This means that if you don't have a great deal of bandwidth, a lower connection quality may be selected and this could prevent you from streaming in Ultra HD.

In addition to automatically choosing the right resolution to play, Disney+ gives users the option of saving data by limiting how much of it can be used to stream videos on the platform (via Disney). You may have turned on this data-saver mode at some point without realizing it, causing your device to stream at a lower resolution. You can check whether that's the case and adjust the setting within the Disney+ app on mobile, using a web browser, and through the smart TV app. The exact steps may vary slightly based on which device you use to adjust the settings.

  1. Open Disney Plus.
  2. Click on your profile icon in the top right corner of the screen.
  3. Go to App Settings.
  4. Tap either Wi-Fi Data Usage or Cellular Data Usage, the latter of which will only appear on mobile devices.
  5. Both settings have two options: Automatic and Save Data. If the Save Data option is selected, change it to Automatic.

Automatic will stream at the highest quality possible, meaning if 4K is available and your internet speeds can handle it, that's what you'll get. Keep in mind that these settings are saved for each device; this means that if, for example, you can stream on 4K on your TV but not on your smartphone, you may need to adjust this setting specifically in the mobile app.

Roku users have a special workaround

Roku is one of the many companies that sell streaming sticks, boxes, and third-party smart TVs that feature its Roku OS software. These devices, as with the Fire Stick and Chromecast, can be used to watch content on Disney+. According to a post on the Roku forums, some Disney+ subscribers have run into issues with streaming content in 4K using a Roku OS device. Some users report success using a workaround that requires manually heading into Settings and then selecting an HDR type to prompt the device to perform a hardware check.

Though there's no guarantee it will work, you can give this troubleshooting method a shot if you're having trouble streaming Disney+ in 4K on a Roku device.

  1. First, go to Settings and then Display Type.
  2. Manually select one of the HDR options listed. The system will then do a hardware check and determine what your hardware supports and the right video setting for it.
  3. Click to select the 4K setting it determines is right for your hardware, then click OK on the Display Type prompt.
  4. Assuming this workaround is successful, the system will display a prompt informing you that Roku will play content at a 4K resolution whenever it's available.

Make sure the content can be streamed in 4K

This may be surprising, but one of the reasons you may not be able to stream Disney+ content in 4K is simply because the show or movie you're attempting to watch simply isn't available in that high of a resolution. It may seem as though every show or movie on Disney+ should be in 4K because, after all, it's Disney, but that's not the case. The company is adding new titles in 4K regularly, but this is a process that takes time, and there are some older movies and TV shows that may never be remastered to a higher quality.

According to the Disney+ website, it's pretty easy to tell if a show or movie can be streamed in 4K. Basically, upon clicking on the details of the content you want to watch, you should see 4K Ultra HD and HDR listed as options. Disney+ also has sections in its library for content that can be streamed in 4K in order to make it easier to find. If a movie or show lacks the 4K Ultra HD label, that means it is only available in a lower resolution.

Other possible solutions

There are also a number of other issues that may be preventing you from streaming in 4K on Disney+. For one, check your internet connection speeds. Disney suggests that you have at least 25 Mbps bandwidth in order to stream the content on its platform in 4K. You can check your connection speeds with sites such as Ookla. Another very simple thing you can do to try and fix the 4K streaming issue is double-checking that your Disney+ app is up to date. This may seem minor but using older versions of applications can cause issues even if they were not present before the newer version of the app was released.

On its help website, Disney also explains that older hardware or using the wrong cable could cause issues when trying to stream content, particularly 4K/HDR movies and shows. If you're using an older gaming console or smart TV, it may not be able to handle UHD content. This is the case with the original Xbox One, according to Microsoft. Even if your display supports 4K resolution, you may be using the wrong cables to enjoy the option. Disney says that subscribers should be using HDMI cable and other components that "support high-bandwidth digital content." 

Specifically, your display should be able to support HDCP 2.2 if you want to stream content in 4K UHD and HDR. Not only that, but Disney points out that your hardware may require its own software update, such as the latest firmware version for a smart TV, in order to display the content at a higher resolution. Finally, the company also warns that if you're using older devices or components (such as an old HDMI cable), it's possible this could cause a drop in video quality or potentially even prevent the video from streaming.