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The “streaming wars” heat up: Disney+, a new video streaming platform, launches

At $6.99, Disney+ is looking to butt heads with the mainstays and newcomers in the so-called "streaming wars."

Disney will spend $1 billion in cash on original programming for Disney+ during fiscal year 2020 Its planned exclusive content will include ever-so-popular Marvel properties This month alone has now seen two streaming services launch, with the other being Apple TV Plus

The video streaming market becomes more and more competitive by the day. After the breakout success of Netflix in recent years, plenty of companies have since butted heads for a piece of the proverbial pie.

Now, Disney enters the fray. 

Disney launches its own streaming service

Disney, the US mass media conglomerate, has now entered the streaming market. After pulling most of its video content from other platforms like Netflix in previous months, it has finally launched its streaming service, Disney+, in the US, Canada and the Netherlands. Australia and New Zealand will soon follow on November 19, with a handful of other countries following in Q1 2020. A Middle East release date has not been disclosed yet.

The service will offer a growing selection of new TV shows and movies from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic, hoping to compete with market giants such as Netflix, as well as fellow rivals like Apple TV+ (launched this month) and Amazon Prime Video.

In the first year after its launch, Disney+ will include 7,500 episodes of current and off-air TV shows; 25 original series and 10 original movies and specials; 400 library movie titles; and 100 recent theatrical film releases, according to Agnes Chu, senior VP of content, Disney+, and as reported by Variety

According to what Christine McCarthy, Senior Executive Vice President and CFO at Disney, told investors in April that Disney will spend $1 billion in cash on original programming for Disney+ during fiscal year 2020. It will have just under $1 billion in operating expenses. Spending on originals is expected to rise to around $2.5 billion by 2024. Disney+’s peak operating losses are expected be between fiscal years 2020-22 and is targeted to achieve profitability in fiscal 2024, McCarthy said.

While the new exclusive content is varied, its biggest hitters will pivot on the world’s largest ongoing film franchise, the superhero-laden Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), focusing on fan-favorite character spinoffs and content. 

The ‘streaming wars’?As for subscribers, Disney has high hopes. 

“Based on current launch plans and the magnitude and cadence of content investment, we expect Disney+ to have between 60 million and 90 million subscribers around the world by the end of fiscal 2024,” McCarthy noted. “And we expect over time, about 1/3 of our subscriber base will come from the U.S. and 2/3 will come from outside the U.S.”

As of October, Netflix recorded havng 158.3 million subscribers globally, acknowledging the impending arrival of Disney+. Still, with years of experience, as well as plenty of exclusive content and loyal consumers, the company doesn’t have much to fret about.

“The upcoming arrival of services like Disney+, Apple TV+, HBO Max, and Peacock is increased competition, but we are all small compared to linear TV,” Netflix said in October. “Many are focused on the ‘streaming wars,’ but we’ve been competing with streamers (Amazon, YouTube, Hulu) as well as linear TV for over a decade.”

What is perhaps Disney+’s greatest asset in this so-called war is its Marvel properties. After all, the MCU has grossed $22.5 billion over the past 11 years and across 23 films. If its Disney+ Marvel content will have a direct impact on the storyline of the MCU, in other words requiring viewers to drop in if they want the full story, Disney could have itself a guaranteed winner. Marvel did not tie its previous TV properties, like Daredevil and Jessica Jones, directly to the MCU, offering them as self-contained experiences. If they do opt for a direct connection with the MCU with this new content, some fans might be displeased with the practice. 

Disney faces launch problems

So far, many users have reported issues with the new streaming platform, some unable to watch content, others facing difficulty logging in, and more. 

Disney addressed this in a tweet, saying: “The demand for #DisneyPlus has exceeded our highest expectations. We are so pleased you’re excited to watch all your favorites and are working quickly to resolve any current issues. We appreciate your patience.”

It might be a case of a user overload on servers, or it could be a fault with the platform itself. Everything should revert to normal as Disney addresses these issues.