Going up against Amazon and Netflix won’t be easy. The latter boasts well over 100 million subscribers. The new service, Disney+, is expected to lose the company money in its first five years, CEO Bob Iger told investors. The move adds to Disney’s platform interests, adding a service for its core franchises alongside its sports streaming service, ESPN+, which launched last year, and Hulu, in which it owns a 60% stake. A bundled deal, said Iger, is “likely”. That’s a scary proposition.
It plans to undercut Netflix and Amazon with a $7 a month subscription – or less than $6 a month if users sign up to an annual contract ($69.99). It launches on the 12th November in the US, with plans for a global rollout over the coming years.
Iger began with a reel featuring scenes from movies like Titanic and Alien. “It was important to remind you that we’re starting from a position of strength, confidence and unbridled optimism”, he said. He has reason to be optimistic.
Like its competitors, the new service will not feature any advertising.
Disney has said it plans to pump over a billion dollars into content over the year 2020 to bring fans on board. However, it’s worth noting here just how much competitors are spending on original material. Netflix, for its part, is expected to spend $15 billion, according to Variety. Amazon, meanwhile also spends heavily.
But they were both starting from behind. Yes, they had the tech chops, platform expertise. Disney has content. It owns its own studio division, as well as the recently acquired 20th Century Fox, Lucasfilm (Star Wars), and Pixar. Iger’s statement that Disney will offer a platform “no other content or technology company can rival”. Following the acquisition of 20th Century Fox, Disney's total content spend will top $22 billion, according to research by Ampere Analysis. That's 11% of all global production.
From Day One, all 30 seasons of The Simpsons will be available to subscribers. Add to that most of the Star Wars movies, every single Pixar movie, the family-focused movies from the 20th Century Fox library. There will also be 10 original films and 25 original series, per the New York Times.
By 2024, the company expects to reach between 60 and 90 million subscribers on the core platform. To do so, it has the luxury of its colossal empire to mobilize in the service of Disney+: not only its TV networks, but also its cruises, theme parks, retail stores, hotels.
Ultimately, despite the new media’s offers of low prices and reach, a legacy organisation has begun to flex its muscles, based on the core understanding of the content business. If you have the best movies and series for a compelling price, they will come.
But the fact that subscriptions work in part of the market does not immediately suggest they can work elsewhere. How many subscriptions can any individual or household possibly sustain?
The market is looking increasingly busy. AT&T, having bought in Time Warner’s firepower, and Comcast’s NBCUniversal are both planning streaming services for later in 2019.
Sourced from the New York Times, Financial Times, Variety; additional content by WARC staff