Disney set to launch own streaming service



Opinion columnist Sam King discusses Disney's recently announced streaming service, set for launch in 2019.

SAM KING, Opinion Columnist

Everyone loves Disney movies. I think anyone would be hard pressed to find a person who didn’t love at least one Disney movie.

I’m not just talking about the Disney princess movies, or any of the animated kid’s movies. The Marvel movies, Star Wars series, and Pixar films — those groups and franchises are all owned by Disney and are technically “Disney Movies”

Disney has built a massive audience with its wide selection and high-quality movies. It’s no wonder they struck a deal with Netflix to stream all types of Disney movies shortly after their theatrical run (The Verge).

It’s been great for fans like me who own a Netflix subscription, but that is all about to change.

According to Business Insider, Disney announced about two months ago that they were going to end their deal with Netflix and create a Disney streaming service for their content in 2019. This is a questionable move at best and one that could potentially hurt Disney.

Now I know I may sound crazy for saying this new Disney streaming service could be a bad move, but there’s not a lot of information on what would be available on this streaming service. If it’s similar content to what Disney was providing for Netflix, then they could be in trouble, the biggest reason being price.

I can only speak for myself when I say this, although I’m sure there are many who agree, but paying another 10 or so dollars a month to watch Marvel movies and the latest animated kid’s movie isn’t something I want to do. I already see the movies I want to see in theaters and buy the DVD if I really love it. Why would I pay another 10 or 11 dollars to watch it whenever I want when I already pay that amount for Netflix?

For the average college student, this presents a problem. Most college students aren’t rolling in cash. Ten extra dollars a month can make a difference when saving up for a new computer, buying books or paying tuition. Some of these students are already paying for other streaming services besides Netflix, so another subscription would simply add to the pile.

I am open minded about this new venture Disney is dabbling in. The company isn’t dumb by any means and will likely roll out a streaming service that attracts its fans.

Families may pay for a subscription so the kids can watch Disney kid’s shows and movies. The comic book fan will pay to see the latest Marvel movie and the avid Star Wars fan will faithfully fund the service as long as they get to see the latest Star Wars movie.

While this may seem like a successful service already, it’s important to understand that there are many, many people who are going to need more from Disney to purchase a subscription. For example, a casual Marvel fan would likely rather put their money towards another interest of theirs, as the rest of the service wouldn’t cater to their tastes.

There are plenty of factors that can make a big difference in whether the service fails or succeeds, however. The first is the size of Disney’s fan base. I think they may potentially have enough hardcore fans to sustain the platform alone, yet I doubt Disney would be happy with just “sustaining themselves.”

They would have to reach further into their vaults to pull in the average consumer or the casual fan. One way that I think Disney could do this would be to look at their ESPN property.

Disney owns ESPN, and it’s no secret that ESPN is a haven of sports content. Sports fans could be drawn to Disney’s streaming service if they included content from their network channel.

Now, this could also backfire as the streaming service could potentially cannibalize the TV channel; however, with the recent losses ESPN, and TV in general, have seen (The Economist), this could be the perfect opportunity to cut the cord on cable and transition into an ESPN based firmly on online streaming.

One last way Disney could attract a wider audience is to simply reduce the price. Another 10 dollars a month is something I personally would not be willing to pay. If the service was lower, I may be willing to buy it, as would some more casual Disney fans.

One analyst at FierceCable predicts that the price could be around five dollars. I would say that is a smart number at which to price a relatively niche streaming service. Netflix and Hulu both have impressive catalogues that Disney would struggle to match.

With this lower price, its appeal could change for the better. The average college student may just take a chance on what could be the future of Disney.