Since launching Disney+ in November 2019, the streaming service has gained 116 million subscribers. (Netflix has only gained 47 million during that time.) Hulu, which has been around for as long as anyone can remember, saw its most significant growth by absolute numbers last month. According to estimates from appfigures.com, Hulu earned $19.4M of net revenue in the U.S. App Store. Much higher than August ($16.6M) and July ($15.8M) hauls.
While early growth was attributed to the timing of COVID19, Disney+ has shown that it can consecutively grow its users quarter over quarter. (Shown below.) Disney’s all-in on expensive but original content is working as it expands that strategy into all its streaming services.
Last year, I wrote a small article on how Disney would execute this plan. Disney has implemented it to a T. Some of their strategy has panned out, and other parts of the projects provided some repeated history lessons for the company.
Quibi, the app that did not work out during COVID19, added another failed case of short-form content to Disney’s record. Within just seven months of launch, the app shut down, and the content is now available on the Roku Channel. (- as Roku has started to develop its streaming platform.)
Sustainable Growth From Owning and Partnering with Pop Culture
As I wrote before, when Bob Iger moved the company to buy three of the most significant content producers in history (Marvel, Lucasfilm, and Pixar), he established a legacy that would prove Disney as the top content brand owner in the world. Every year, the company expands its campaigns into different parts of pop culture. Whether video games like Fortnite or including Lego movies that are a part of the series canon, Disney is cementing itself as a top player in pop culture today.
When Disney+ was launched, it was branded as a platform with a family-friendly solution, and with its possession of the big three, Disney+ has continued to grow. Disney has always been a family-friendly content producer and only recently is slowly dipping its hands into other age-defined productions with the likes of Marvel fan-favorites, Deadpool and Logan. The purchase of Fox last year should have come as no surprise to anyone as Disney now has a new vehicle to run its other age-restricted content like horror or R-rated media intentions through.
The purchase of Fox was not just for a content vehicle but also to own another part of pop culture’s favorite heroes, with new access to Marvel’s beloved X-Men and Fantastic Four characters. With these recent choices, Disney is moving towards owning a content solution for consumers of every age and demographic.
Disney’s current IP strategy is to separate platforms by content type:
- ESPN/sports on ESPN+
- Family-friendly content on Disney+
- High-quality, non-age-restricted content on Hulu
- Wide-range/short-form on Fox’s Ad-supported Tubi.
- A 5% stake in FuboTV
Disney’s content strategy, engaging the streaming world at all different angles, is working and other streaming platforms have taken notice. Netflix, which lowered spending during the first quarter of the pandemic, is already back to spending big on content again, spending $4.4B last quarter.
Content Domination On All Fronts, Streaming or Not
If you have been to the movies anytime in the last five years, you likely saw a film from a Disney-owned franchise.
Typically, before the pandemic, new Disney movies would make their way to Disney Plus about five to eight months after they premiered in theaters. But that has changed; films hit theaters exclusively for 45 days and then immediately switch to a Disney streaming platform. But for some of its upcoming smaller movies, Disney is simply shifting films originally planned for theaters to be Disney Plus originals instead, skipping theaters entirely.
The streaming strategy appears to be working as Disney continues to churn out quality over quantity content and subscriber growth.
This article has been reprinted with permission from Hayden Barnes’ Medium blog.