Disney+ is becoming a stronger streaming service by the day. It’s redefining the streaming business, often by doing the exact opposite to competitors like Netflix or Amazon Prime.
Here are five reasons why Disney+ is succeeding.
A library that Netflix can only dream of
Let’s talk about the most obvious appeal of Disney+, and one of the primary reasons people subscribed when it launched back in 2019. The service boasts an incredible back-catalogue of existing content. Mainstream blockbuster movies are mainstream for a reason, and they’re always going to be the most sought after products, especially for consumers looking for repeat viewings.
Intellectual properties that have developed fandoms and multi-media adaptations rule the roost. That’s a fact. Just take a look at the top-performing movies of all time. Only two aren’t part of a franchise (Titanic and Avatar), and we know that Avatar sequels are on the way.
Film series like The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Jurassic Park, and Marvel are in constant demand. Now, Disney obviously doesn’t own all the rights to these films, but it certainly has the lions share.
Additionally, competitors like Netflix only own the license to old favorites for so long. Disney has the licenses to all the Lucasfilm/Star Wars, Marvel Cinematic Universe, Pixar, and Disney classics forever. That also means that Disney’s extensive library of animated classics will never again grace other streaming services once any current contracts expire. That is a major blow to Disney’s competition.
Disney+ has announced 105 new original projects
Fans know that a streaming service isn’t much good without a line-up of compelling originals. Well, Disney knows that too. At its Investor Day in December, the company announced that 105 original projects are in the works for Disney+.
This obviously includes current fan favorites like The Mandalorian, WandaVision, and the incoming The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. However, these shows are but the tip of the iceberg. Marvel fans can rejoice, as TV seems to be just as important to Marvel Studios as movies are right now.
Disney is even creating a Magic Kingdom universe with Ronald D. Moore at the helm, based on characters from Disney Parks rides. All of that content is coming exclusively to Disney+, and with the pandemic still ongoing, it’s likely to remain that way.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek said it best on a conference call with Morgan Stanley, after the Mouse won big at the Golden Globes:
‘I think I would challenge the idea that it’s a war in the sense that there’s one winner. We think there’s going to be multiple winners. At the same time, though, we’re highly confident that we’re going to be one of them. I think if you look at our unparalleled brands, the franchises that make up those brands, the tremendous content creators, we have leading each one of our segments, as evidenced by the way last night with our success at the Golden Globes. And then the actual content that’s pouring out and the amount of content that’s pouring out, we think that we’re tremendously positioned for the future for our DT service’.
Additionally, Amazon Prime and Netflix are certainly bringing the goods too. The latter’s adaptations of popular comic books like The Boys and Netflix’s wild success with Bridgerton demonstrate that both platforms are still bringing the goods.
Theatrical releases on Disney+ are an event
Raya and the Last Dragon will release in theaters, but it will also be available to Disney+ subscribers at an additional cost. This “Premier Access” model worked well for Mulan, and it really helps Disney stand out as the only streaming service to offer “cinematic” level content, as opposed to the feel of many of Netflix’s “made for TV” projects.
Obviously, many fans don’t like the pay-to-watch element that comes on top of an existing subscription cost. However, it’s undeniable that this model has done well for Disney. The streaming service has quickly shot to third place behind Netflix (203m subscribers) and Amazon Prime (200m). Disney+ is still definitely in third place, with approximately 95 million global users.
However, it’s also the newest service by far and has exploded in popularity. Part of the reason for this success is undoubtedly down to new movie launches such as Soul (2020) and the live-action Mulan (2020) remake. Don’t expect these to stop when theaters finally re-open worldwide, as its worked wonders for the streaming service.
Its release schedule refuses to play by the rules
One of the service’s most unexpected successes is how it releases its content. Netflix made a name for itself as the hub for “binge-worthy” TV programs. Users love to dig into a new series, like Tiger King or Fyre, binge it all in one go, and turn it into the biggest trending topic on Twitter.
However, from a business point of view, this is far less effective in creating organic promotion. Disney has understood the value of the old-school ways of organic promotional tactics and customer PR value. By releasing shows like The Mandalorian and WandaVision one episode at a time every week, it builds hype and interest every single week.
This is the complete antithesis of the Netflix model. Does Disney care? Absolutely not. Where Amazon Prime and Netflix struggle to release a consistent stream of originals for fear of subscriber fatigue, Disney continues to reel in its audience by playing the long game. And, it’s working. Just take a look at its Golden Globes performance — 25 nominations and the coveted Top Dramatic Picture award for Nomadland.
Star on Disney+: The adult content we’ve been waiting for
For all you American subscribers out there, Hulu has provided the more adult-focused content that Disney can’t. However, for many parts of the world where Hulu is unavailable, Star on Disney+ has been a major selling point.
Some have dubbed this brilliant business decision the “Netflix killer”. It offers users worldwide a far more appealing prospect and crucially aims to target those folks who aren’t drawn in by the existing library of Disney content.
Star turns Disney+ into a true contender and a worthy rival for Netflix and Amazon Prime. It started with the arrival of The Simpsons, but having access to classic shows like Scrubs, Grey’s Anatomy, LOST, and Family Guy proves its staying power a dozen times over. Furthermore, R-rated movies like Die Hard and Borat proves that it isn’t just for kid-friendly content.
What will Disney do next?
It’s difficult to predict the Mouse’s next move. The launch of Star was anticipated but came as a welcome surprise to many fans. Now that the company has addressed the need for more adult-centric content, perhaps it will start to create more originals focused on this demographic.
Indeed, “Star originals” could be a good way for Disney to find its own Bridgerton and have a huge breakout hit. The Mandalorian and WandaVision may have huge viewership, but they still only appeal to Star Wars and MCU fans at the end of the day. However, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is reportedly due to have a 200% higher viewership than The Mandalorian, so time will tell.
Regardless, Disney’s streaming service is in the best place since it launched in 2019. Some minor issues still persist, but the service is growing stronger with every update. Particularly thanks to essential inclusions such as child lock settings as well as more controversial decisions such as mandatory content restrictions.
All five of the aforementioned factors suggest that the service is here to stay and here to win. Chapek may feel that there will be several winners, but Disney+ is certainly looking to come out on top.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.