Disney announces details on upcoming streaming service
Details
Michelle Clancy
| 10 November 2018

Disney has chosen Disney+ as the name of its highly anticipated streaming service, which is set to come out in late 2019.

The name echoes the nomenclature of Disney’s existing ESPN+ streaming service.

The service already has two new exclusive series from Star Wars and Marvel lined up to populate two of a planned five content channels on Disney+. The others will be Disney, Pixar and National Geographic (which Disney is acquiring from 21st Century Fox).

The decision to focus on specific brands is in high contrast to the high-volume strategies of Amazon Prime and Netflix, but Disney CEO Bob Iger said that differentiation will help it garner loyalty.

"We want to superserve the most ardent fans of those five brands,” he told analysts. It will be “very elegant and very brand-centric, and add navigational features that don’t exist on other platforms.”

Original shows will include such fare as a series with perennial antihero Loki, brother of Thor; and a Star Wars show with Diego Luna as Cassian Andor.

Disney isn’t leaving the general-interest streaming marketplace behind, however. As Iger has said previously, the House of Mouse plans to invest heavily in Hulu going forward, of which it will have majority control after the Fox deal closes. Iger said that talks are underway to secure back rights on existing library deals for Disney-owned titles, and it may be able to leverage Fox’s output deal with HBO, which is supposed to run until 2022.

ESPN+ meanwhile has already racked up more than 1 million subscribers since launching in the spring, “and we haven’t even really begun marketing it,” Iger said.

Disney+ and the investment in Hulu can be seen, along with a new offering from AT&T also set to launch in 2019, to show a fundamental change in how traditional TV players look at digital efforts. Put simply, they’re becoming centerpieces for their future strategies.

During an August earnings call, CEO Bob Iger said that the company’s pending acquisition of 21st Century Fox's entertainment assets will be the cornerstone of a major push into the digital realm. For instance, Hulu will benefit from content produced by edgy cable-channel FX and the Fox Searchlight studio, which produced Oscar-winner The Shape of Water.

It makes sense to follow consumer trends, of course: OpenX's 2018 Consumer Holiday Shopping Report found that a fourth (24%) of consumers have already cut the cord or never had cable, and another 13% are considering doing so within the next year.

Meanwhile, all of this has big ramifications on advertising, which will need to find a way to make these OTT services work for them.

The study showed that one out of four shoppers spend no time watching live TV at all, including 40% of Millennials; while 73% of millennials don’t watch ads at all when viewing TV programming. And, Millennials spend nearly five times more time on a mobile device than watching live TV.

It’s not just young people however: More than half of all consumers in the poll said they no longer watch commercials on live television.

“In 2019, as more eyes shift to data enabled TV viewing like OTT and connected TV, advertising will undergo another sea change of engagement,” said Dallas Lawrence, chief brand and communications officer at OpenX. “To survive, advertisers must change the way they reach consumers and adopt an omnichannel strategy that does not rely too heavily on traditional linear television.”