by Michelle Castillo
Disney’s marquee streaming service, set to launch later this year, could quickly become the entertainment industry leader, derailing rivals like Netflix by offering customers some of the most beloved characters and recognizable titles for a lower price.
The new service, Disney+, will launch in the United States Nov. 12 for as low as $6.99 a month, or $69.99 for the year — less than Netflix’s basic, non-HD $8.99 plan.
By adding Disney+ to its existing streaming services, which include ESPN+ and majority-owned Hulu, Disney aims to dominate the shift to online platforms by ensuring consumers will have access to its content wherever they are, and for generations to come.
The company projects it will have 60 to 90 million subscribers by 2024, a third of them in the U.S.
While Netflix is projected to spend $15 billion on content this year to fill its subscribers’ queues with programming across all genres, according to BMO Capital Markets, Disney doesn’t need to invest as much because of its extensive library of content.
With titles from Disney Motion Pictures and Pixar, and access to some of television’s most recognizable series, like “The Simpsons,” Disney already has a deep well of content that it can offer on its service in the next four years. Many will be included at launch.
The 96-year-old entertainment giant also has the ability to move its blockbuster movies, like “Captain Marvel” and “Avengers: Endgame,” on the Disney+ platform right after their theatrical windows close.
Still, Disney will spend $1 billion on original content for Disney+ in 2020, with most of its shows based on its existing intellectual property. “The Mandalorian” comes from the Star Wars expanded universe, and popular characters like Wanda Maximoff, Vision, Loki, Falcon and the Winter Soldier are Marvel spin-offs. These projects come with a built-in audience.
Disney said it will ramp up its budget for original streaming programming to a projected $2.5 billion by 2024, and the Disney+ service will have mounting expenses over the next few years. But it projects it will be profitable by 2024.
And, if consumers move away from subscriptions, the company has the ability to earn revenue from its majority-owned advertising-based streaming product, Hulu, which will include more adult-themed content as Disney+ features its family-friendly fare. This differentiation diversifies the company’s potential streaming revenue without disrupting customers’ expectations.
With the advent of its new streaming product, Disney could well unseat Netflix as the streaming industry leader in short order.