I think the people at Tom’s Guide do very good work. And I don’t say that about a lot of tech websites. But I could not disagree more with the take that it has on Disney+. The article called “The one thing Disney Plus should do in 2022” talks about Disney+ being too reliant on its hugely popular properties like Star Wars and Marvel without enough focus on titles outside of them. The rub by Henry T Casey and other recent critics of Disney is that outside of titles built on Marvel and Star Wars brands there is nothing else that appeals to him. Well sorry to hear about that.
Disney+ Is not a service with something for everybody
Disney+ was never supposed to be Netflix with a Disney bow. It’s not the place for edgy stand-up comedy about sex, politics, and race. It is not a service built to appeal to DIY fans or Monster Trucks or reality shows about antique stores. Disney+ is a comprehensive library of Disney content with Disney-related originals. There have been a number of other original series on Disney+ over the past 2 years, which have been terribly hampered by the Covid 19 pandemic mind you. There are currently 65 original series on the service Including Big Shot, High School Musical The Series, The Mighty Ducks (Game Changers), Disney Monsters At Work, Turner And Hooch, and others. The service also has 30 original movies. There will surely be plenty more from brands like Pixar and National Geographic as well. The argument against Disney+ now and even when it launched was that there are not enough shows to appeal to a base outside of younger people Comic Book fans and Star Wars fans. But is there really something wrong with Disney+ not trying to be all things for all people? Here is a question. How much top of the line content for children can you catch on HBO Max? Not all that much. Does that mean that HBO has to add 60 kids shows in 2022? Nope. HBO Max is the home of critically acclaimed adult leaning originals, mainstream movies rates PG13-R, edgy comedy and provocative entertainment.
Let’s think of Disney as a company VS Netflix as a company. Netflix only operates as a streaming company. Yes, it owns comic book imprints but only for IP reasons. And make no doubt, a lot of its innovation has been by necessity. If the service could get by on the content found on Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Paramount+ and others do you think it would have invested billions into original content? No it would not have. If Netflix could have continued to be a home for Marvel and DC movies, the home of Marvel TV shows, and the best place to watch content from the last 40 years of TV on top of that and still sign up customers that is exactly what it would have done. But the content owners caught on and all started their own services, that includes Disney.
I think Disney’s critics fail to understand exactly why Disney+ exists. It is one of the numerous properties in a massive entertainment portfolio. Disney is not a dedicated streaming company and nothing else. Disney produces programming for ABC, (Which airs on Hulu), Free Form (Which streams on Hulu), it owns ESPN which has its own network apps and ESPN+ streaming service. If Disney were to decide that instead of having a Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ bundle to just mash all of its properties together like HBO Max, there would be more to watch on one service than anyone could keep up with. And then the commentariat would say the service was too busy and that it didn’t make sense that the same service that had baby Yoda also offered live Rugby.
Disney owns lots of content that is not on Disney+
Heck, Disney has tons and tons of content that is not Marvel, Disney, Pixar or Star Wars to stream. But it is on Hulu. Disney will not put “The Great” or A Hand Maids Tale on Disney+ right next to Enchanted in a menu. Does anybody think that the thing Disney+ is missing is Bridgerton or a show where monsters possess teenagers or drag them to Alternative dimensions where they are tortured while crying out to their mothers? It could not be further from the Disney brand. The entire Fox library is on Hulu but it would not work on Disney. Content from FX, Preditor and its Fox-owned titles would never fit on Disney+ as its set up. And there is no reason to change it. Disney+ can operate with no parent lock needed. There is no need to monitor what the kids are watching so that they don’t run across full-frontal nudity and violent language and imagery. This is something people like about the service. And if they want that content and Disney+ they can get Disney+ and Hulu and more for $12.99.
Critics don’t understand cross-marketing
For some reason, this apparently limited service is the 3rd biggest streaming service in the industry with 118 million subscribers as of November 2021. And let’s be real. Just because Amazon has 175 Prime customers does not mean that it has 175 million streaming customers. The service is there to remind everyone what it is that they like about Disney. And here is something else. Marvel and Star Wars content is very popular. It has huge crossover appeal to kids and adults. By building on those brands it sells comic books, games, toys, trading cards, dishes, bed sheets, napkins, hats, pajamas, Grogu (Baby Yoda) dolls, and so many other things. How many Bridgerton comforters did you happen by at Target last month? How many kids have a Jupiters Ascending toy set? Do you get it yet?
Disney+, after a meteoric rise, and a year when people all stayed home in masse and watched TV saw subscriber growth slow this year. Good maybe people were going back to the park and seeing their family and friends or supporting local restaurants. Do you know where millions of people went last year when things relaxed for a time? Disney World and Disney Land. More money to the same company. Disney is going to be just fine. Disney+ will continue to add new programming. Especially as it de-emphasizes linear TV channels. Every single family that drops cable this year will want to get good kids content and will most likely at least give the little engine that could that is Disney+ a look.
If Disney+ were a start-up that overleveraged on paying billions for the rights to Disney, Marvel and Star Wars content that promised its investors that it would be bigger than Netflix in 4 years then it would be in a world of hurt and a major failure. It would need to immediately broaden its audience or face becoming an addition to Peacock or something else bigger. But as a way to invite people into the Disney ecosystem and promote its parks, its brand and continue to develop a post cable strategy with a service it works just fine. It does not have rights fees to negotiate for its content and it will make continue to make more. But the most popular stuff will always be built on top of fandom like Star Wars and Marvel. It will not be looking into how to bring the 70 and older crowd in or single men in the 50s-60s. It already has them with ESPN.
Disney+ should keep on doing what it’s been doing.