Brace yourselves, everyone. Disney+ is here.
A Whole New World: The streaming wars were already simmering with Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, Hotstar and countless regional rivals battling it out for market share. Now, right on the heels of Apple, AT&T and NBC, Disney has jumped into the arena with its own streaming service. Disney+ launched in the US on Tuesday, and will begin rolling out its service in other major markets. And it has the potential to up-end the field and force its competitors to have several restless nights.
The Lion Zing: Why? The main reason is the sheer size of Disney's cultural phenomenon. If you analyse a list of most popular movie characters, you'll find that Disney owns most of them. This is not only the product of the creative genius of Walt Disney and his successors but also the series of 10-figure purchases that turned Disney into Hollywood's most successful movie company: Pixar (2006), Marvel (2009), Lucasfilm (2012) and the mega $71bn deal that saw Disney buy much of 21st Century Fox. Such assertive expansionism has enabled Disney's catalogue to include a diverse array of much-loved and much-successful characters, from Buzz Lightyear and Lightning McQueen to Han Solo and Iron Man.
Saving Nemo: That's not to say being a cultural behemoth will give Disney a road with no obstacles. While it is a production giant, it is yet to acquire a strong technology background like its competitors Amazon, Netflix and Apple. And unlike the other companies, Disney doesn't have a lot of experience selling productions directly to consumers. And its two previous streaming bets - ESPN+ and Hulu - aren't exactly performing impeccably when it comes to generating revenue.
Will Disney be able to learn on the job? And will investors' bet on it prove lucrative? That, only time will tell. To paraphrase Princess Jasmine in Aladdin, "They've come so far, they can't go back to where they used to be."
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