A scene from "Zootopia," one of hundreds of movies Disney hopes will draw viewership to its streaming service (Image via Motor Trend)

Will a Disney Streaming Service Actually Be Successful?

Now that several media companies have plans to launch their own streaming services, cable is beginning to look a lot more attractive.

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A scene from "Zootopia," one of hundreds of movies Disney hopes will draw viewership to its streaming service (Image via Motor Trend)

Now that several media companies have plans to launch their own streaming services, cable is beginning to look a lot more attractive.

Like many other teenagers, a good portion of my childhood revolved around the Walt Disney brand. I visited the theme parks in Florida and California, religiously kept up with practically every show on Disney Channel and had a home collection of classic Disney films on VHS. But even today, I still get psyched whenever I hear about anything Disney-related—including the company’s newly announced streaming service.

In a nutshell, the new streaming service is not supposed to be very different from popular services such as Netflix and Hulu; subscribers will get to stream movies and shows at the touch of a button, without the obstruction of commercials or ads. However, the forthcoming service will feature exclusively Disney content, from feature-length films to Disney Channel originals. And the brand’s other studio properties won’t be left out of the catalog, either, meaning you could log into the service when you’re in need of a Marvel or Star Wars movie fix.

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Still, the timing of the announcement remains a bit startling. In 2012, Disney inked a deal with Netflix to give the digital service exclusive access to the company’s latest film releases succeeding their theatrical run. The deal was set into motion last year, following the end of Disney’s contract with another media distribution service called Starz; and ever since then, Netflix’s Disney library has improved tremendously, with popular animated films such as “Zootopia” and “Moana” joining the mediocre direct-to-DVD sequels offered on the streaming carrier.

Given the turn of events, though, Netflix customers now have about two and a half years left to indulge in Disney content—both the good and the bad—on their service. According to “The Verge,” Netflix will continue to stream Disney movies through the end of 2019, including new releases coming out during the remainder of this year and the next. But once 2019 is rung in, all upcoming theatrical films from Disney and Pixar will exclusively be available on The Walt Disney Company’s own streaming service, and Netflix-using Disney fans will have to decide if they’re willing to pay for both Netflix and another service’s monthly streaming fees.

For what it’s worth, Netflix most likely won’t lose its loyal fanbase come the arrival of its Disney competitor. The service is already home to shows from many successful broadcasting networks, such as Fox, The CW and NBC, as well as movies from other animation studio giants such as DreamWorks and Illumination Entertainment. However, it goes without saying that many people prefer Netflix to other streaming carriers because of its Disney offerings, and once they’re officially gone, there’s no doubt that they’ll definitely be missed.

The real question then is if the Disney streaming service has the potential to gain its own devoted following. For starters, Disney was listed as one of the most powerful brands in 2017, with its value exceeding $34 billion. Not only that, but the company generated more than $55 billion in revenue the year before, proving that the executives have a good eye for profitable services and must see great promise in creating a service specifically for Disney video streaming.

Even more, The Walt Disney Company’s television networks have recorded larger audiences compared to other children and adult channels. Between Disney Channel and Nickelodeon, Disney Channel came out on top with a cool 4.93 million more viewers per week. The same trend goes for Disney-owned ABC—the highest number of viewers per week recorded for the channel amounted to 157.62 million, exceeding the weekly viewership of both Fox and NBC. Not to mention how Disney-run channels have become more renowned amongst the general public in the last few years, and could mean the same for the brand in the streaming department.

But most of all, the true probability of the service garnering success lies in the fact that Disney has such a vast collection of film and television media. According to “D23,” there are 725 Disney movies (and counting) in existence, not including television films. And if you include every television series that’s been produced by The Walt Disney Company and its subsidiaries, then the final count of all Disney content across film and television comes to over a thousand.

Plus, Disney CEO Bob Iger has stated that there’s much more in store for the new service aside from the company’s library content and future theatrical releases. Similarly to Netflix, Disney will have an annual slate of original movies, TV shows and short-form content that’ll premiere exclusively on its streaming carrier. And from a strategic standpoint, the addition of service-exclusive material is smart; more people will want to subscribe to the service to see the original content for themselves, especially if any of the movies or shows become international phenomena such as Netflix’s “Stranger Things” and “13 Reasons Why.”

By the looks of it, there’s really only one major con pertaining to Disney’s new endeavor: whether or not people will pay for yet another streaming service. Streaming fees are known to add up, particularly when you share an account with other people and have to purchase additional screens because you all use the account at the same time. But with the notoriety of Disney and the high prices of DVDs and Blu-Ray nowadays, it’s hard to believe consumers won’t jump on the Disney streaming bandwagon to view current and childhood favorites.

For the time being, the countdown toward the highly anticipated streaming service still has less than two years to go, and Netflix has a string of Disney content waiting to make its video-on-demand debut. Before Disney movies are taken off Netflix for good, you’ll still get to stream upcoming films such as “Mary Poppins Returns” and “The Incredibles 2.” And even once they make their Netflix grand exit, there’s a whole new service for you to explore—if you don’t mind spending the money on it.

Writer Profile

Cherie Litvin

Binghamton University

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