Disney Plus is now bigger than Netflix. But there are price increases coming for both HULU and Disney+

Back in 2017, Disney made a pledge: it would build a streaming platform to rival and eventually beat Netflix. Just five years later, Disney has succeeded in doing just this – it now has a total of 221 million paying subscribers versus Netflix’s 220 million.

That’s pretty close, of course, but put in the context of 2022, with Netflix losing subscribers and even thinking about running ads on its service in order to make some bank, Disney’s fast-paced growth is very impressive.

Of course, the fact that Disney owns everything was always going to help. In the past 10 years, Disney has bought up so much IP that it is now essentially Hollywood. It has Star Wars, Marvel, Aliens, Predator, Pixar, Indiana Jones. Hell, it even owns the History Channel these days. And 20th Century Fox.

Disney Owns Everything. Netflix Prefers To Lease…

Netflix’s business model is based around either A) producing its own original content or B) licensing IP from other companies like NBC, HBO, and others. But with the rise of nearly every major content studio having its own streaming platform, it is going to become harder to license shows and films – especially new ones.

This means Netflix has to invest billions in new shows and films. It recently plowed $200 million into The Gray Man, for instance, and its long-term survival is contingent on it consistently producing hits like Better Call Saul and Stranger Things, whereas Disney has more content at its disposal than anyone else in the market.

This is the main reason why Netflix is increasing its prices; developing and producing new TV shows and movies is not cheap, especially when we’re now all used to its high-quality productions. It is also why we’ll soon see an ad-supported tier for Netflix. The company needs money, making TV shows and films is a deathly expensive business.

Disney+ Will Embrace Adverts Too

Disney, with all of its power, control, and IP, isn’t immune to the costs of making big-budget films and TV shows either. It too has confirmed that it will be releasing an ad-supported tier in December 2022. The new ad-supported version of Disney+ will cost $7.99 a month and it will be the cheapest way to access Disney’s streaming platform.

But Disney’s ace in the hole is that it isn’t even fully rolled out yet, globally. Netflix is basically available everywhere. Its potential growth, based on sheer geographical regions, has now peaked. From here on out, it needs to create unique and engaging IP to attract and maintain its subscriber base.

Disney on the other hand is only available in a handful of countries; once it starts rolling out Disney+ farther and wider, its numbers will once again shoot up, helping it to further increase its lead over Netflix.

This global expansion is also why Disney is bolting on a cheaper, ad-supported version of Disney Plus – it will soon begin targeting poorer, less well-off nations and regions.

Disney now projects between 215 million and 245 million total Disney+ customers by the end of September 2024. That is down from the 230 million to 260 million which Disney had been forecasting.

The adjustment came from reduced expectations for India, where the company is losing streaming rights for Indian Premier League cricket matches.

For the first time, Disney broke out estimates for Disney+ Hotstar customers in India from the rest of Disney+.

Chief Financial Officer Christine McCarthy said Disney expected to add up to 80 million Disney+ Hotstar customers by September 2024, and between 135 million and 165 million others.

Channel News Asia

Netflix’s Main Problem Is A Lack of Legacy Content

The reason Disney+ has been so successful is that Disney owns and controls nearly all of the most popular IP on the market – from Aliens to Pixar, Disney owns the rights to bloody everything these days.

This control of IP and franchises gives Disney an unprecedented advantage over Netflix, Amazon, and Apple. Making films and shows is expensive but it is also inherently risky – there’s no way to know you have a hit on your hands until it is delivered to the public. And from start to finish, producing a new TV show or film can take years.

This means Netflix has to plan years in advance, constantly be investing in new projects, factor in for flops, and hope that if it chucks enough stuff at the wall eventually something will stick.

Disney’s approach is far less risky; it can just do another Star Wars film or TV show, or reboot one of its iconic franchises like Predator or Alien and people will lap it up. This is why Disney is the biggest. It bet the house on nostalgia and now its gamble is paying off.

A film like PREY, for instance, is always going to be more popular than an original concept film. Is this a good thing? No, but it is the way things work which is why we live in a world dominated by the MCU and never-ending reboots of classic films.

Updated MCU TimelinePin

Disney is heavily committed to this model as well. There will be what seems like a never-ending stream of new Star Wars and Marvel content released in the next decade. And this will continue as long as people are happy to consume it, which, based on current search trends and attendance levels at Comic-Con, will be well into the next century. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?

Hell, the mouse is even making an 80-year-old Harrison Ford reprise his role as Indiana Jones in 2023. Who wants to see that? I love Harrison Ford as much as the next guy, but there’s no getting around the fact that he’s 80 years old and totally not suitable for the role anymore. Unless, of course, this is all part of Disney’s evil plan to have Ford hand over the reigns to a female version of the iconic character.

Heresy? It would be. But don’t put it past Disney – it has plenty of pedigree in this field. Just look what it did to Star Wars. It turned an iconic film series into a joke, made a mockery of what made the original films so good, and couldn’t even be bothered to respect the lore of The Force which, in the end, just became a way to do anything that the script required.

Disney is winning, yes, but its method and approach in how it achieved this aren’t necessarily going to be a good thing for cinema and TV in the long run – unless, of course, you enjoy shows like She-Hulk and other mind-numbingly terrible MCU and/or Star Wars bolt-on content.

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