Opinion: It’s been a good year for Disney as its streaming services overhauled Netflix’s subscriber base, reaching more than 220 million customers.
It’s very noteworthy that this is not more than 220 million for Disney+ alone, but the total for all Disney streaming platforms that includes ESPN+ and Hulu. Disney+ currently has a total age of 152.1 million as of July 2022.
Just like the latest entry in the Predator series, Prey, Disney caught up with Netflix, looked square in the eye and said “that’s as far as you go.” With HBO Max on seemingly shaky ground, and none of Paramount+ and Peacock interested in fighting for subscribers, it’s between Netflix, Disney+, and (probably) Prime Video for the top dog spot in the global SVOD market.
Where Netflix has been trying to stem subscriber losses, Disney+ has added a somewhat absurd number of 14.4 million subscribers. Part of this jump is due to new entries in popular and long-running franchises like Star Wars (Obi Wan) and the MCU (Moon Knight, Ms Marvel) along with shows like Pam & Tommy and The Dropout. The affordability of the streaming device is also a major point of differentiation, for 4K content it’s about half the price of Netflix.
Which makes it odd that Disney is announcing the ad subscription tier arriving later in the year will be the same as the current “base” price, with a new tier arriving in the US at a cost of $10.99. In fact, those who pay $7.99 will need to go to the more expensive tier if they want to watch the same content without ads.
That is, to put it mildly, somewhat rude; Now you need to pay more just to enjoy what you already have. There are a few ways Disney could have offered an ad-funded category – I’d expect a cheaper price (say, $4.99) or it to be free, like Amazon’s FreeVee. Maybe even make the ad-funded layer cheaper and restrict it to HD versions and not include 4K.
Enacting some of these ideas can be a bit complicated and hacked in terms of serving the same content to everyone, but the idea of spending more just to avoid ads doesn’t seem consumer friendly and is an obvious attempt Pay instead of Encourage Participants. Only when Disney gets to the top does it seem like she slid carelessly on a rock.
It’s understandable why Disney would do this from their point of view, and they talk about the amount of investment in streaming services that don’t seem sustainable over a long period of time. Hulu, ESPN + and Disney + platforms lost $1.1 billion, up $300 million. Broadcasting services undermined television in terms of pricing to become a loss leader, but this only highlighted the cost of television production, especially at the level of broadcast services.
It’s probably the reason why HBO Max has put kibosh in so many shows/movies, and in fact, I suspect operators would rather pay Much more to access their libraries but will the public accept it? It didn’t work with Netflix and we’ll find out with Amazon and Disney when their price hikes take effect.
With the cost of living rising and inflation rising to alarming levels, Disney could find itself in the same position as Netflix when new price levels appear in the US or perhaps subscribers accept ads and continue their streaming business. At the moment, I can’t help but feel that Disney is wading into some pesky waters.