The day was November 12, 2019 — the much-ballyhooed Disney Plus was here! It was clear the Walt Disney Company was on its trajectory for global domination scooping up every fledgling company in its wake — ESPN, ABC, National Geographic, Star Wars, and that start-up comic company, Marvel Entertainment.
Now that entertainment was coming homebound with streaming, Disney wanted to compete there too. They created Disney Plus to house all its online properties for VOD and even original content.
The world was full of magic and so would our TV sets. In its first six weeks, 26.5 million people subscribed to the new streamer on the block. Hulu had 30.4 million subscribers at the time, but who cares? Disney owned majority stock in them too.
Financially, it was a booming success for $6.99 per month or $69.99 / £60 each year. But, following The Mandalorian, has it really struck a chord among fans? Were they enamored with the network offerings? Was the virality of each new movie a guarantee?
Let’s discuss the actual success of Disney Plus, one year later.
Disney Plus: Is This the Way?
A few months ago, Disney Plus announced it had 60 million subscribers. Not too shabby for a new streamer that thought it would have that many streamers…in 2024. But looking back on its tentpole releases, we got The Mandalorian, Hamilton, Disney originals like Lady and the Tramp, and the early release of Frozen 2.
After that? Meh.
If you don’t believe that, ask yourself this: “What is the truly bingeable content on Disney Plus?”
Netflix makes that their specialty. HBO Max can arm wrestle them for that title. Hulu is working on it and Amazon Prime isn’t too far behind with its growing catalog.
And then there is Disney Plus.
Outside of The Mandalorian, The Simpsons, The Clone Wars, and a few NatGeo series, the network has been a little scarce with original content. (Not for nothing, but don’t sleep on NatGeo’s The Right Stuff or to any place Albert Lin guides you.)
- Star Wars? We finally got all The Skywalker Saga in there. A few LEGO shorts and a couple of interesting originals.
- Pixar? The grand collection is there, but we’ve seen all those. What’s left? Pixar Shorts and Ask Forky a Question?!
- Disney? Its generous catalog of original classic animation is there, along with some of the rebooted live-action films and musicals, but you need kids or be in a mood, right?
- Marvel? It took a year to get the bastardized FOX productions and only some Marvel films are there. Not even all the MCU films are there.
After all that, and disparity of unoriginal content, was it worth $70 this past year?
The State of Content Affairs at Disney Plus
COVID-19 is no respecter of persons or global empires like Disney. According to The Hollywood Reporter, The Walt Disney Company has lost almost $7 billion in 2020 because of the pandemic. Most of that is because of its park closures around the world.
If Disney doesn’t have those parks open, no spike in subscriptions and viewing to its other media properties can help. Not to mention, the vast collection of Disney-owned movies that have been delayed for theatrical release to 2021.
There is no income — incoming revenue — for Disney. So, layoffs, delays, and misery has set it. From movies to TV, parks to comics, Disney is taking a bath. Even most of the hopeful original content Disney Plus had planned was put on the shelf until 2021 and even some in 2022.
Oh, Disney Plus is bringing us Black Beauty. Excited for Nov. 27? Some are. Only some.
There was the big announcement of “premiere content” with Mulan. But, you either paid $30 or wait until Christmas. Guess how many people are waiting for Santa? The problem with Disney Plus is this: That enormous vault of theirs has many corners, shelves, and unseen areas where the pull-string light bulb burned out.
What about all that classic and historic content with Walt Disney himself? Walt Disney Presents with his smiling, penciled-in mustachioed face and Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color because yes, life used to be seen in black and white.
From 1954 to 1997, the Magical World of Disney and its subset shows filled our lives with joy. And since most of us couldn’t make it out to the park for a pair of monogrammed Mickey Mouse ears, America loved Uncle Walt.
It was joyous and a fun “behind the scenes” look at the imagineers at work. It would be great on Disney Plus, And bupkus for us historian geeks.
Is Disney Plus Lending Us One of Mickey’s Ears?
With the illustrious gaggle The Walt Disney Company has at its disposal, 2021 is promising to be a fantastic year for cinephiles and a dump truck of cash for Mickey.
- The parks will probably open full time, with respect to new federal guidelines.
- Disney Plus is looking to pry open that vault for classic content.
- Marvel’s Phase 4 is going to be everywhere (prayerfully, in movies as well).
- The list of original content next year will enhance all channels of Disney Plus
- And Disney’s international Star service will be up-and-running too.
Disneyland is considered “the happiest place on Earth” but Disney Plus has a fortnight to go before all its subscribers are feeling that streaming glee. One thing is certain: When you wish upon a star, next year will cause those Disney executives to shout “I See the Light.”
Damn, I love this song…
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