We’ve been watching Disney’s attempt to overtake Netflix for a while now, and out of the gate Disney+ was looking quite formidable. However, since January things have been slowing down as best as we can tell. Recently Disney announced that The Falcon and the Winter Soldier had the biggest launch ever for Disney+… but a deeper dive showed that they were basing that statement off of a semantics game. In fact, The Mandalorian still had arguably a better showing. Even if you want to disagree with that assessment, the best anyone could fairly say is that The Falcon and the Winter Soldier had done about as well as The Mandalorian’s second season opening.
You might think that matching The Mandalorian is a great success. After all, The Mandalorian is the premier Disney+ series, and the first series on Disney+ to dethrone the king of streaming, The Office (which The Mandalorian did with its Luke Skywalker episode). However, we’re comparing first episodes, and The Mandalorian was not an overwhelming success in its Season 2 opener. By the end, it did indeed generate a ton of views and online buzz, but the first episode was muted.
There’s another reason that The Falcon and the Winter Soldier only meeting The Mandalorian’s first episode success is a bad sign. Disney+ is supposed to be growing dramatically in subscribers. Having the same viewership in late March that you had in late October of the prior year… it’s not great. If Disney’s numbers for increased viewership are to be taken as objectively absolute, it would mean that a significantly smaller percentage of Disney+ subscribers are tuning into this new series versus The Mandalorian Season 2 launch. Worse, it could indicate Disney+ subscriber increases are beginning to stall.
That wouldn’t be a great omen for Disney, considering Netflix is still sitting on roughly double the number of subscribers as Disney+. We can all debate until the end of times whether or not Disney+ is growing fast enough, whether it’s a fair comparison considering Netflix’s prior domination of the streaming industry, etc. But at the end of the day, if Disney+ is beginning to stall with only half of the numbers they need to dethrone Netflix, it doesn’t bode well for their plans.
Are the Disney public relations issues – as well as the ethical concerns – beginning to have a tangible and financial effect?
To have a visual aid for this real decrease in Disney+ New Series interest, let’s take a look at Google Trends for The Mandalorian, Wandavision, and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Google Trends generally give us a good idea of buzz within the United States. In the following chart, the blue line represents searches for The Mandalorian over the past 12 months, the red line represents Wandavision over the last year, and yellow represents any searches at all that feature the term “winter soldier”. I broadened the perimeters for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier simply because the series’ complex title could have skewed the results.
Even with the relaxed standard for the new Marvel series, the trend is clear. Disney+ original content is drawing less and less excitement over time. The drop off in interest begins just after the Luke Skywalker episode with Wandavision having a lower search rate overall, but also not having anywhere near the pop in excitement that Luke Skywalker generated. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier barely registers with interest having truly plummeted.
It’s hard to say what is driving this crash in searches, and purported dropping percentage of Disney+ subscribers tuning in for new content. It could be the continuing fallout of Disney firing Gina Carano with an unprofessional series of actions. It could be the relationship Disney has demonstrated with the Communist Party of China. It could be the backlash of Marvel and Lucasfilm comics that are more or less ideologically-driven derivatives of beloved content that came before it. Or maybe it’s just people being more able to leave their homes, spring breaking forth for much of North America, and a sigh of relief as we all prepare for pollen season with more glee than we could have imagined two years ago?
Whatever the case, it does appear that Disney has a problem. Let us know in the comments below if you’re excited for new Disney+ content and why. We read all comments, and enjoy discovering your thoughts.
Pirates & Princesses (PNP) is an independent, opinionated fan-powered news blog that covers Disney and Universal Theme Parks, Themed Entertainment and related Pop Culture from a consumer's point of view. Opinions expressed by our contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of PNP, its editors, affiliates, sponsors or advertisers. PNP is an unofficial news source and has no connection to The Walt Disney Company, NBCUniversal or any other company that we may cover.