Disney+ has been doing quite well since it launched, but it’s not the Netflix killer that everyone expected. The House of Mouse has now officially joined the streaming wars with Disney+, but it’s not really becoming a threat to the original streaming giant, Netflix. The three biggest competitors in the streaming business are of course Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video. Aside from Disney+, several new platforms are getting into the act as well, such as the recently launched Apple TV+, HBO Max, Peacock, and more.
It’s easy to see why Disney+ made such a big splash when it was first announced. The service is packed with content from some of the most prominent studios and franchises. Disney+ launched with over 300 movies and 7,000 television episodes. Its library ranges from movies that go as far back as 1937’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves to much more recent hits, like Disney’s 2019 live-action remake of Dumbo. But Disney+ offers more than just its in-house properties. Among its biggest appeals is its access to movies and shows from Lucasfilm, Marvel Studios, Pixar, and the newly-acquired 20th Century Fox. Disney+’s launch lineup boasts nearly the entire Skywalker saga from the Star Wars universe, and a long list of movies from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, including Avengers: Endgame and Captain Marvel.
Like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, Disney is producing its own original content for its streaming platform, with a large chunk of it being related to Star Wars and Marvel. Disney+ launched with the Star Wars spinoff, The Mandalorian, and has plans for shows about Cassian Andor and Obi-Wan Kenobi. As for Marvel, Disney+ has eight shows in development from Marvel Studios, beginning with The Falcon and the Winter Soldier in late 2020. According to Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige, upcoming movies are tied directly to the Disney+ shows. Regardless, everything that Disney+ brings to the table isn’t threatening Netflix in any significant way.
It’s been said for a while that Disney+ is considered to be a major challenge for Netflix, especially since Netflix has dominated the market for years while simultaneously fending off competition from Hulu and Amazon. The popularity of Marvel and Star Wars was enough to make people think that Netflix had a lot to worry about when Disney+ was coming around the corner. The concern was that Disney+ would gradually – or perhaps even immediately – pick away at Netflix’s subscribers. However, this hasn’t happened. Or at least, it hasn’t happened yet.
It was reported that just prior to Disney+’s launch, the service had 1.9 million subscribers, which is just 3% of Netflix’s subscribers. A day after its release, Disney announced that it had already surpassed 10 million users, which beats earlier estimates that it would reach 8 million by the end of the year. These are impressive numbers, but make no mistake, the statistics are far from earth-shattering. Furthermore, it hasn’t been revealed how many of those people signed up using the free trial; that may very well be a key factor in how many people stay subscribed in the long run.
As of now, Disney+ is doing fine, but it’s not blowing away its competition or stealing millions of subscribers from Netflix. Netflix’s subscriber count simply doesn’t seem to be suffering from the launch of Disney+. Both services are getting by just fine.
Disney+ is certainly making waves with The Mandalorian, which is drawing plenty of attention with it being the first live-action Star Wars TV series. The series may even be one of the most talked-about new shows of the year. But what is Disney+ offering right now, beyond The Mandalorian? The Mandalorian is sure to appeal to fans of the Star Wars franchise, but to reach the largest number of customers, Disney+ will need a lot more than just a Star Wars show. At launch, it has shows like High School Musical: The Musical: The Series and The World According to Jeff Goldblum, but none of these are huge enough to earn Disney+ new subscribers by themselves. Disney+ will soon be home to quite a few Marvel shows, but these won’t even arrive until late 2020 when The Falcon and the Winter Soldier releases. Even then, they’ll be added to Disney+’s library gradually, as it will take time for Disney+ to amass a large amount of original MCU content.
On the original movie front, Disney+ currently has the Christmas film Noelle and a live-action Lady and the Tramp remake. Both have been met with mixed reviews, so neither is expected to considerably affect Disney+’s number of users. Netflix, on the other hand, is releasing new shows and movies on a weekly basis, with a strict focus on original content. Disney+ can attempt to produce shows that draw more interest than Netflix’s, but when it comes to the sheer amount of content that Netflix currently offers, Disney+ isn’t on their level.
Disney+ isn’t hurting Netflix, nor was that ever something that should have been expected of it, simply because Disney+ is a different animal from Netflix. Netflix thrives off its massive library of original shows and movies, whereas Disney+ is banking on nostalgia in a big way. It knows that its audience is interested in streaming animated Disney classics like The Jungle Book, Bambi, and The Lion King which can’t be streamed anywhere else. Additionally, Disney+ is focused on expanding on the Marvel and Star Wars universes, which are both hugely popular franchises. Centering on just two franchises isn’t necessarily wide-reaching, but Marvel and Star Wars are enough to gain Disney+ plenty of subscribers, but it’s not a wide enough range to make viewers drop Netflix in favor of a significantly smaller library of shows.
Also, it’s worth noting that while Netflix does offer cartoons for kids, a lot of its appeal comes from its more adult-themed original content. This is the opposite of Disney+, which isn’t going to go beyond the PG-13 rating to ensure that it remains a family-friendly service. In short, Disney+ and Netflix serve very different needs, so potential customers won’t necessarily choose between them. The two platforms can coexist without either one having a massive impact on the other’s profits.
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