Disney Handed Crushing Defeat, Hemorrhaging Fans

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Mickey ponders the castle

Credit: ITM

After months of losses in movie theaters and a continuously escalating war with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, the Walt Disney Company has just suffered a huge defeat at the hands of one of its biggest multimedia rivals.

When the Disney Plus streaming service launched with much fanfare in 2019, it was an immediate, enormous success. Fans had been impatiently waiting for the iconic company to join the streaming service market and bring its deep catalog of classic animation, Marvel Studios content, Lucasfilm’s Star Wars, Pixar movies and shorts, and National Geographic. Now, it seems that the bloom is off the rose, and people are disenchanted with Disney Plus.

Related: Disney Pixar “On Life Support,” Faces Uncertain Future

Disney Plus Overtaken by Rival Streaming Service

HBO MAX Logo
Credit: WarnerMedia

While the Disney Plus streaming service has been one of the dominant forces in the market since it landed, it was just bumped down in subscriber numbers by one of its biggest rivals, Max. The Warner Bros Discovery-owned streaming service formerly known as HBO Max has overtaken Disney Plus (per 9to5Mac) in market share, knocking it down to the fourth most-popular slot among major platforms.

Even more worryingly for the House of Mouse and its proprietary streaming service, not only did Warner Bros’ Max actually gain market share in order to leap up the ranks and overtake them, but Disney Plus also simultaneously lost market share. Basically, it got beat in both directions on this one.

The Streaming Service Market Is Changing

Even as Disney Plus is overtaken by Warner Bros’ Max (which has suffered its own recent controversies in the transition from HBO Max), the rest of the streaming service market is in turmoil. For years, Netflix has dominated the rest, particularly as it pioneered producing original content like Stranger Things, Marvel’s Daredevil, and Squid Game.

Related: ‘Star Wars: Rebels’ Season 5 is Coming to Disney Plus

But this same report (using data from JustWatch) reveals that Netflix has fallen to Amazon Prime Video, which is now the leader in market share at a dominant 21%. In contrast, Warner Bros’ Max currently holds 15% and Disney+ is at 13%, followed by Hulu, Paramount+, Apple TV, and the other smaller streaming services.

Why Is Disney Losing to Max?

Worried Mickey with Disney+ logo in background
Credit: Inside the Magic

In many ways, every major streaming service is struggling with the same issue: there is a finite number of people who will subscribe to a platform and they are all competing for them. For years, Disney+ has succeeded on the strength of its Disney content, which has built-in loyalty and emotional impact for millions, and has been boosted by original content from Marvel Studios like Wandavision and Loki and Lucasfilm series like the breakout Star Wars series The Mandalorian.

However, the more recent Disney+ original series have encountered dwindling audiences (with the currently airing Secret Invasion doing dismal numbers) and strong fan criticism of more recent seasons of flagships like The Mandalorian. In short, it seems that Disney’s original content game has been slipping.

Why Did The Disastrous Max Help Warner Bros Discovery?

On the other hand, Warner Bros Discovery did just suffer the single worst superhero movie box office flop ever with The Flash (2023), and the controversies over the changeover from HBO Max to plain Max don’t seem to be quieting down, so why did it actually rise in the list?

Related: Warner Bros Forces Controversial David Zaslav Article to Be Deleted

In short, while Warner Bros Discovery CEO David Zaslav is taking extreme backlash for deleting HBO Max series and movies, the merger of the streaming services did bring over an enormous amount of content like Deadliest Catch, Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, and Dr. Pimple Popper from Discovery+, basically porting over an audience base and inflating its share, at least for now.

Disney Still Going Strong, Despite Everything

Cinderella Castle lights up at nighttime at Christmas
Credit: Disney

Although basically every Disney release in the last year has been a disaster, it seems that it still remains the most profitable media company out there, outstripping Warner Bros Discovery, Sony Pictures, and Universal Pictures on the whole. This latest Disney+ setback is pretty bad for the company, but it isn’t going to kill it, at least for now.

What do you think of Warner Bros Discovery’s Max defeating Disney+? Let us know in the comments below!

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