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InContext / An inside look at the business of digital content

Watch out, streamers: Disney+ just can’t wait to be king

November 7, 2019 | By Will Harris – Independent Journalist @NonStopPop

In the amount of time it takes the average TV viewer to contemplate subscribing to a new streaming service, five new streaming services have appeared.  

That last part’s not actually true. But given the way streaming services keep popping up, it’s likely closer to accurate than either we or our wallets would like to believe. That said, there’s only one such service looming on the immediate horizon that’s capturing the attention of viewers in virtually every age demographic. Slated to make its grand debut on November 12, everyone is watching out for Disney+.

The origins of Disney+ date back to August 2016, when The Walt Disney Company acquired a minority stake in BAMTech, a spin-off of MLB Advanced Media, the digital media arm of Major League Baseball. A year later, they upgraded to a controlling stake in BAMTech and on April 18, 2018, Disney subsidiary ESPN kicked off their streaming service (ESPN+).

Picture this

By that point, however, Disney had long since seen the potential in constructing their streaming offering. They began setting things in motion, having already swiped back the rights to the Marvel and Star Wars movies from Netflix and set a deal to acquire 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets.

If you’re wondering what this means in terms of content available on the Disney+ service, just sit back and spend the next three hours and eighteen minutes (give or take a few seconds) watching this trailer. As its title helpfully explains, it offers a glimpse of “Basically Everything Coming to Disney+ on November 12.”

And we’re back!

No, we don’t think that you actually watched all three plus hours. However, we suspect you couldn’t resist skipping around enough to see how much Disney, Marvel, National Geographic, Pixar, Star Wars, and other programming Disney+ is bringing to the table – and to your screen – when it bows next week.

Subscribe now

Unsurprisingly, The Walt Disney Company is making it very easy to secure subscriptions to Disney+ as they prepare for rollout. They’re also providing ample incentives to give it a try, whether it’s the 7-day free trial membership, the streaming bundle of Disney+, ESPN+ and the ad-supported version of Hulu for $12.99 a month. There’s also the deal where Verizon is offering 12 free months of Disney+ to all new and existing 4G LTE and 5G unlimited wireless customers as well as to existing Fios Home Internet and 5G Home customers.

Yet the question remains: Given all the other streaming services out there, will viewers really be champing at the bit to add Disney+ to their “collection” come November 12?

Watch it

Here are five reasons why Disney+ looks like a must-watch:

1. Disney+ is the new “Disney Vault.”

In the past, whenever Disney has decided to reissue various films, they’ve done so in an ostensibly limited-edition fashion. They assure consumers that, at a certain point, they’ll stop production and the film will  go “back into the Disney Vault” until such time as they decide to reissue it again. Disney+ is already being viewed as a virtual vault. However, viewers can access their favs whenever they want…for a nominal monthly fee, of course.

2. If you like Star Wars and Marvel movies, it’s now the only place you can stream them.

As we mentioned above, it wasn’t a good day for Netflix when they found out that they were going to be losing not only the Disney movies they’d had in their catalog but, indeed, the Star Wars and Marvel stuff, too. One need only look at the top box office blockbusters of the past decade to see how valuable those franchises are. And that’s not even contemplating the drawing power of the new original Star Wars and Marvel series that Disney+ is adding to their programming roster.

3. Those 21st Century Fox entertainment properties? Yeah, that includes The Simpsons.

Yes, yes, Avatar is in the mix, too. And that’ll be a big deal as we get closer to the release of Avatar 2. But Simpsons fans are a devoted bunch. Remember that FXX’s earlier deal with the series resulted in some record-setting programming and a great deal of viewership. However, giving those fans the opportunity to secure access to more than 650 episodes of the series – and the movie, too! – in an ad-free environment is enough to make them shout, “Gimme, gimme, gimme!” and subscribe post-haste.

4. The “come for the classics, stick around to see what’s next” rollout plan.

Disney+ certainly isn’t shirking on offering interesting and high-profile new programming straight out of the gate. This includes a Toy Story spin-off series (Forky Asks a Question), a new Star Wars series (The Mandalorian), and an extension of the High School Musical franchise with a tongue-twisting title (High School Musical: The Musical: The Series). However, Disney+ also has some deals on the horizon that strengthen the appeal of its debut. They’re understandably confident that no one will walk away from the service when they know they’re going to be getting a Monsters Inc. sequel series (Monsters at Work), a second Star Wars series that has Ewan Macgregor reprising his role as Obi-Wan Kenobi, and no less than eight new Marvel series.

5. Even setting aside the aforementioned sign-up deals, the standard monthly price is still a steal.

Of course, the definition of “a steal” is relative. That said, consider this: Disney+ is $6.99 a month, whereas Amazon Prime is $8.99 a month, Netflix is anywhere from $8.99-$15.99 depending on which plan you have, Hulu is $11.99 a month, and HBO Now is $14.99. No matter how you slice it, Disney+ is a bargain.

We can’t say that November 12, 2019 will be remembered as the day the sun set on Netflix and rose with Disney+ as the new king of streaming. But it’s evident that there’s a tussle on the horizon that’s going to put the battle between Simba and Scar to shame. And, hey, the good news is that ringside seats only cost $6.99 a month!


About the author

Will Harris has a longstanding history of doing long-form interviews with random pop culture figures for the A.V. Club, Vulture, and a variety of other outlets, including Variety. He’s currently working on a book with David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and Jerry Zucker. (And don’t call him Shirley.)

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