Disney has announced their own streaming service which will launch in 2019. I talked about what that might mean for the future of the Marvel/Netflix shows, but that’s only one facet of this conversation. A company as monolithic as Disney has a lot to offer the streaming market, and they could end up serving as real competition for current streaming giants like Netflix and Hulu. But, what criteria do we need to take into account when considering what a streaming service would look like? What factors are going to be deal-breakers for fans? What missteps could the company fall victim to? Let’s look at some of the biggest concerns this new service has created.
The Library of Titles and the Disney Vault
Any streaming service lives or dies on its library. As Netflix and Hulu move further away from curated content and focus more heavily on their own original programming, Disney could offer an incredibly valuable piece of competition in this field. A comprehensive Disney library of films and television is something fans would be ecstatic to access. Imagine being able to watch any classic Disney film whenever you wanted. Or how about introducing a younger generation to all the memorable Disney television shows of the past? If this service means a show like Gargoyles can find a new audience, that’s a pretty tempting offer. Not to mention the vast empire of other outlets Disney controls. If channels like ABC and Freeform fall under the umbrella of this eventual streaming service, we could see an even larger library of shows become available under one digital roof.
But, there are some hurdles to clear before declaring this streaming platform an all-encompassing dream come true. Disney has long maintained the concept of the Disney Vault, a self-imposed moratorium on releasing their films for an extended period of time in order to generate greater demand when the next home release of a title comes out. Will Disney keep this going once they offer a service which would theoretically allow users access to anything Disney has ever made? Or will the streaming service act like Netflix and only offer films and shows for a limited time? The reason Netflix has to do that is because they license those pieces of content for a set period of time. In order to keep the content, they have to pay the licensing fees.
Since Disney is the sole owner of their own works and wouldn’t have to spend any money on licensing, there would be no reason for them to deny access to certain pieces of content. The only feasible strategy behind such a maneuver would be to generate a false sense of exclusivity with certain titles. If people are going to pay for a Disney streaming service, it wouldn’t make much sense if they don’t feel they are getting the biggest bang for their buck, and allowing subscribers unfettered access to the fullest library possible seems like the only way to justify such an endeavor.
Speaking of bucks…
How Much Are You Spending on Streaming?
As more and more people move away from traditional cable television, the cost of subscribing to multiple streaming platforms begins to add up. I pay for Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, and Shudder without having any kind of cable subscription and it’s still a significant part of my monthly budget. Eventually, consumers have to decide how many streaming services they are willing to pay for. With Disney entering this marketplace, there needs to be a serious discussion about how much they will charge for their service. As I mentioned above, this price should also reflect exactly how much content you’re going to have available to you. Heck, is it possible Disney could go so far as to offer tiered access levels? Will you have to pay more money to be able to watch more content?
An integral factor with pricing a streaming subscription service is taking the younger generations into account. They are the ones who are moving further away from cable, but Disney needs to consider their budget restrictions as well. Plus, if Disney’s selling point is primarily their children’s films, is that really a huge buy for younger consumers? Or will it be positioned as something for parents instead? If so, it means that Disney’s key demo would younger parents. That could be a tough market to tap into, especially if the price isn’t something young parents can afford.
Of course, the biggest question for hardcore fans has to do with two huge properties…
The Future of Marvel & Star Wars
Thanks to two of the biggest purchases of all time, Disney now controls both Marvel and Star Wars. Those two franchises alone are the biggest and most recognizable brands in the world. Does Disney’s streaming service plan to make all of that content available? Will it only be Disney’s produced content or will they include Marvel and Star Wars films and shows from the past? Could Disney even debut the original cuts of the Star Wars trilogy on this platform?
There is also scuttlebutt going around about Disney potentially splitting those two properties up and giving them each their own streaming service. That’s purely a rumor right now but it sounds like an awful idea. As enormous as those properties are, it’s unlikely consumers would be willing to plunk down a significant amount of money every month just to have those pieces of content at their disposal. If Disney is smart, they will make those IPs a part of their general streaming service. The appeal of a streaming service is having a glut of content all in one place. Splitting these up would only weaken their potential to succeed.
Considering this is all speculative right now, we’ll be debating about what this could be for a while. 2019 won’t be here anytime soon. It’s likely that the Mouse House is going to keep a lot of the specifics of this service very secret until they are ready for a showy reveal. Let’s hope they put their best foot forward and provide a platform that gives Disney fans what they want.
And seriously, it better have Gargoyles.