Shifting Focus To Streaming May Pay off For Disney But There’s A Lot of Competition


For years Disney has focused on their theme parks. If there was a deficit somewhere, the theme park revenue usually made up for it. Prices kept creeping up but as long as demand was there Disney kept pushing the limits. Then COVID-19 hit and the Disney parks were shut down, along with theaters, and Disney Cruise Line.

Now, almost a year later, Walt Disney World is open, while Disneyland and some other parks are shuttered. Theaters are reopening, but the releases are trickling out. Disney Cruise Line just announced more cruise cancellations through April and into May. But Disney+ keeps marching on.

One push for streaming has been for animation. Animated shows and films could continue when everything else was shut down. Now streaming services are scrambling to acquire as many new and old animation projects as they can.

But there’s another reason streaming is a good choice moving forward. According to Variety the Consumer Technology Association has noticed a 15% increase in spending related to streaming moving up to a projected $41 billion. Not only in paying for services but buying merchandise for characters and shows like Disney princesses, Marvel and if Disney can fix Lucasfilm, Star Wars.

Consumers are projected to spend $41 billion on streaming video in 2021, according to the Consumer Technology Assn., an industry trade organization; that represents a 15% jump over spending last year. Access to exclusive content and canceling traditional video service are two factors behind the rise, according to the group. And every kids TV executive knows that a successful character or concept can also drive millions of dollars’ worth in dolls, T-shirts, books and other consumer products.”

Now the issue Disney faces is competition and attention span

Disney is going to face a lot of competition now. Now just for eyeballs on their services, but with talent. There are more services. They want to offer more and they are making deals with Disney people.

Netflix has recently had films like “Klaus” by Sergio Pablos and “Over the Moon” by Glen Keane. Both animators previously were over at Disney. Kenny Ortega, known for “High School Muscial” and “Descendants” is making a new live-action show for Netflix called “Julie and the Phantoms.”

But it’s not just creative talent, executives have been poached by new and old streaming platforms over the past few years. It got so bad that a California judge issued an injunction against Netflix in December of 2019. The injunction was to prohibit Netflix “ from attempting to hire Fox TV and film executives who are under contract.

If you watch you will see executives jumping ship from one company to another all the time. It’s one of the reasons we feel Disney reinstated full salaries and bonus opportunity to executives. Got to keep them somehow.

But another issue plaguing streaming services is that people consume content and switch services far more frequently that have in past years. People will sign up just to watch a show or two and then cancel their subscription. Frankly speaking, I only use our Disney+ subscription to watch a couple of shows like “The Mandalorian” and “WandaVision.” I will likely use it for access to purchase “Raya and the Last Dragon” but otherwise our family isn’t using it much. We use Hulu (also controlled by Disney), Discovery+, Netflix, Crunchyroll, HBO Max and some other ones more. Disney+ is one of the least watched streaming services we have.  However, I can see that changing as more and more exciting content is added.

The Streaming wars have begun. It’s a battlefield where eyeballs, IP and merchandising money are all at stake. Disney could succeed and do well if they can not only get interest but keep interest and if they pick shows that they can leverage more into merchandise sales. Like animated projects, or more Marvel and Star Wars, etc.

At the end of the day, it’s a darn good think that Disney had Disney+ launched when they did. Even though, many, ourselves included, thought they should wait until they had more to offer.

But it’s one time that it’s good to be wrong.

What do you think? Comment and let us know!

Source: Variety, Hunt Scanlon Media.

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.