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  • Writer's pictureElliot Mulley-Goodbarne

Early success doesn't equate to long term subscribers for Disney+

Updated: Apr 10, 2020

Like a lot of Brits out there, I have succumbed to the mouse and subscribed to Disney+.

Causes for this turn of events can be attributed to the high levels of boredom and lack of enthusiasm for walking or running; I'm also not keen on endangering lives in exchange for a sun tan but each to their own.

For context, Disney took the decision to bring a streaming service in the same ilk as Netflix, Amazon Prime, iPlayer and, in the US, Hulu over two years ago, coming to the US first in the autumn of last year and entering the UK less than two weeks ago.

That early US launch accumulated 28 million subscribers for Disney+, thanks in part to agreements such as the one with Verizon that offered the service free for a year. Similar agreements have been struck with O2 in the UK as well as an integration in the Sky Q platform, again, similar to that of Netflix and BBC iPlayer have now seen the total subscribers grow to over 50 million.

As you'd expect the content is predominantly from Disney's entertainment brands, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic and Disney themselves, however The Simpsons has also been added for your late night show to fall asleep to.

I have been surprised with the breadth of content on the platform and some of the movies available. For example, I was pleasantly surprised to see Avatar on the list -I'm not saying it's a top 10 film but I got along with it- and I can see how some would like to revisit their Hannah Montana or Zak and Cody obsession.

What I have found good is trying to reignite any appreciation for superheroes I had through the Marvel universe films and I am now finally caught up on the latest Star Wars films (Rogue One is a good film by the way).

So what's the problem? Well, it's the content.

If you look at the Netflix and Amazon Prime business models, they are loosely based on those of public service broadcasters. You pay a certain amount, you get a wealth of content in return and that is certainly applicable for Disney at first.

However, Amazon have an eCommerce platform and Cloud portfolio to fund new content and Netflix's business model is one of the most polarising out there depending on if you think their over spending can rake in enough market share to later balance the books. The point being that it takes a lot to deliver content on a worldwide scale.

Whilst the point stands that Disney has the content to start with, it's worth pointing out that Netflix has over 167 million subscribers and added 8.8 million of those in the last quarter of 2019. Those subscribers have been treated to 'binge-worthy' series like Tiger King, Sunderland 'till I Die, The Stranger and How to fix a drug scandal in the past month alone, creating headlines, memes and conversations at the bar in the same instance.

That's on top of the 'classics', if we can call them that, in Netflix's repertoire that include Orange is the New Black, Stranger Things, Ozark, Narcos and The Crown that will hold and attract subscribers with that list growing every month.

Disney needs new content. The Mandalorian is a good start but it is just that and it doesn't address the issue that, unless they are a big fan of Star Wars or the Marvel Universe a lot of the 'streaming' demographic won't see the value of another £7.99 subscription.

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