Sometimes, things simply come down to a matter of timing.
When the world changed as we know it virtually a year ago to the day forcing the population to spend more time inside its own four walls, the Disney+ streaming platform made it’s tentative UK launch into the world of online streaming.
With its relatively slim content package yet tremendous heritage, Disney+ was up against the behemoth Netflix and the rapidly growing Amazon Prime at a time when Britons were spending 40+ of their waking hours in front of the TV. Streaming services were experiencing a huge boom in popularity as these giants invested into new content such as live sport (NFL and Premier League football) and award-winning programmes such as my personal favourite, The Crown.
It had taken some time for Netflix to sit proudly atop the streaming throne. Last month they announced a breath-taking 203.7 million global subscribers (theguardian.com/media) and a four-year period to grab it’s second hundred million.
Then along came Disney+ and shook things up as quickly as you can say Mandalorian. How quickly? Well, The Walt Disney Company announced earlier this month that its flagship Disney+ platform, had passed 100 million global subscribers – a feat that took, Netflix, a decade to achieve. Taken together with subscriber numbers for the group’s ESPN+ sports platform and Hulu subscription service in the US, the surge puts Disney on track to dethrone Netflix by 2024.
In the UK, in its first 18 months since launch, Disney+ hoovered up almost 40% of the 13 million new streaming subscribers in the UK last year. Amazon Prime Video took a quarter, while Netflix, the most popular service in the UK, attracted 19%, according to the data firm Kantar.
This is an incredible feat when you look at the simple comparison of content hours provided: Disney+ (4,500 hours) v Amazon Prime (50,000 hours) and Netflix (40,000 hours) – but a strategy that can simply put down to the age-old strength of quality over quantity. Where Netflix and Amazon Prime have the volume, Disney has quality brands that fans feel they have to watch.
This is an intriguing media area and one well worth keeping an eye on. With lockdown restrictions imminently about to be relaxed, I would not expect to see engrained viewing habits to change as we climb slowly from our home-based world of escapism into the real world.