So, you bought into the Disney+ hype (literally), but how much have you actually used it? Is it time to cancel your subscription?
Back in 2017 when it was announced that Disney would be launching its own streaming service, the internet went nuts. People were either angry at the thought of having to subscribe to yet another service, or thrilled at the idea that they could watch every Disney property that ever existed, whenever they wanted.
By the time the Disney+ name was announced, along with a tentative launch date, the world was excited and ready (if a bit unimpressed with the name).
Come November 2019, Disney+ first launched in the United States, Canada, and the Netherlands, amassing more than 10 million subscribers after the first day. By the end of 2019, Disney+ reportedly had 26.5 million subscribers.
With a price point lower than other streaming services, and promises of new Marvel shows, Star Wars shows, and reboots of old favorites, it’s no wonder it was a huge success. But has Disney+ actually lived up to the hype?
After the initial week of seeing all that’s available, and watching some of your old favorites, the novelty wears off pretty quickly. To maintain continuous use requires original content, and with only two original scripted TV series and two original films available upon release, there wasn’t much to keep you engaged. With a structure like that, it’s more likely viewers will pull an HBO, and only subscribe for the duration of the show they’re interested in.
Even now, months into the release of Disney+, there are still only three original scripted shows available, and four original films. Compared to competitive streamers like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video, Disney+’s original content rollout is too few and far between.
Of course, the other streamers have the benefit of having been in the game longer than Disney+, but that just means they have a lot of catching up to do in order to win people over from other services.
Not to mention, the television series’ episodes are released weekly, not all at once. Though some people may like the weekly releases, Netflix has largely trained audiences to prefer binging a series in a matter of days (or hours).
With so many streaming services to subscribe to nowadays, viewers might be more inclined to only subscribe to Disney+ for a month, after every episode of a show has been released.
Then there’s the issue of demographics. Who is Disney+ targeted to? Nostalgia has been a big trend for a few years now, so when Disney+ was first announced, millennials were among the first on board to subscribe in advance.
The idea of being able to watch movies and television shows from their childhood whenever they wanted was massively appealing. As already stated, however, the sentimental effect wore off quickly enough.
There was hope, though. We were promised reboots and new versions of some of our favorite Disney properties. High School Musical: The Musical: The Series had the potential to tug on millennials’ nostalgic heartstrings, while leaning into their particular sense of humor. Indeed, with a meta title like High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, millennials certainly thought it was going to be something tailored to them. However, it ended up being another teen drama, better suited to the gen Z demographic, and younger.
Despite the High School Musical set back, millennials held strong. There was also talk that Lizzie McGuire was set to have a new season, following her life as a 30-something-year-old. It couldn’t be more perfect. The preteen we watched as preteens would get another season, depicting her life at 30, the same age as those who initially watched the show.
Except Disney had other ideas. The show is currently in limbo after Disney halted production two episodes deep. According to Hilary Duff, Disney is not open to the idea of depicting anything over a PG rating, “limiting the realities of a 30-year old’s journey.”
The Lizzie McGuire actress has been pushing for the reboot to live on Hulu, like another Disney property, Love, Victor, a spinoff of the Love, Simon film.
Of course, there are still the new Marvel and Star Wars series that target every generation, but are those enough to keep 18+-year-olds interested? As mentioned above, it’s likely they’ll only subscribe for brief periods of time, if at all. Despite millennial hype, it doesn’t appear that Disney+ is really for them. Adults and younger adults are probably better off sticking with Netflix or Hulu, for the sheer volume of content and the original programming.
Adults with children, however, would be a great fit for Disney+, which is really who Disney’s brand is for anyway. That said, Disney is missing a market by so intentionally alienating slightly older audiences.
One must also consider that both Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime also have substantial children’s content. Most of it may not be on the level of Disney properties, but if a family can only afford one streaming service, realistically they’ll subscribe to one that appeals to most members of the family, to get the most use out of it.
So, after all the Disney+ hype, was it actually worth it? For those reading this, the short answer is no, but the long answer is that it could be. At the moment, Disney+ doesn’t have enough content to compete with the veteran streaming services you’re probably already subscribed to.
Additionally, with their treatment of certain series (Lizzie McGuire and Love, Victor), it’s difficult to feel too hopeful. If The Mandalorian is any indication of how the rest of their Star Wars properties, or Marvel properties, will go, that’s certainly promising. But they may not be frequent enough to warrant a full time subscription.