Entertainment: Disney’s big bet on streaming
The much-anticipated Disney+ streaming service stumbled out of the gate this week as high demand overwhelmed the platform, said Brooks Barnes and Nancy Coleman in The New York Times. Aiming to “offer a complete library of Disney, Pixar, Star Wars, and Marvel movies,” Disney+ arrived with “every trumpet in the Magic Kingdom blowing on its behalf.” For the first time this year, worldwide streaming subscriber numbers, 613 million, exceed cable customers (556 million); for Disney the rollout is a “transformative event,” untethering it from the declining cable business. Though some viewers posted screenshots of the glitches, “Wall Street seemed confident” they’d be resolved.
This is “the most important product launch in Bob Iger’s 15 years as CEO,” said Devin Leonard in Bloomberg Businessweek. Iger’s first idea to compete with streamers “was to buy Twitter.” Fortunately, he reconsidered, and now says he feels relief “every day” that the merger didn’t happen. Disney’s initial cord-cutting efforts, ESPN+ and Hulu, have been money losers. But Disney+ is different. A series of “10-figure purchases”—Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm—made Disney Hollywood’s most successful movie company. Now it’s taking that strategy of “cornering the market on the most valuable entertainment character universes” into the home. ■