Disney+ Gains Subscribers, Netflix Pursues Awards

Now that Disney+ has rocketed to some 28.5 million subscribers — seemingly competing with Netflix and its 61 million U.S. subscribers — the next big question is: Does Disney+ have the same “quality” as Netflix?  

Big viewing from Disney+ “The Mandalorian” might illustrate that quality. But what comes next — and how does it compete with Netflix?

Netflix spent $70 million on specific Oscar marketing for its movies -- “The Irishman” and “Marriage Story” -- and other content touted in this year’s race. All to gather some 24 nominations overall, the most for any studio. That said, it only won two Oscars — for best documentary, “American Factory” and best supporting actress for Laura Dern in “Marriage Story.”

What about Disney’s big picture nominations/awards? Twenty-two nominations and four awards, mostly for its animation work. But also for two non-animated movies, coming from its recent Fox acquisition. It won best adapted screenplay award for “Jojo Rabbit” (Fox Searchlight) and “Ford v. Ferrari,” (Fox studios) for film editing and sound editing.



But modest-budget, older adult-skewing movies haven’t been Disney's main focus in recent years. Disney currently prides itself on big money-making, younger-skewing, action-fantasy movies, such as “Avengers,” “Star Wars” and other big-box moviemaking franchises.

Many big Hollywood studio operations continue to see relatively lower Oscar results — especially for big Academy categories like best picture, leaving that pursuit to smaller independent studios and major-studio's mid-sized film subsidiaries.

As for Netflix's push for the Oscars — and awards events like the Emmys, it has been a long-steady effort when it comes to marketing, in addition to ongoing and new shows.

Some of that push may change — now with 15 staffers recently let go in its marketing department.  Other Netflix promotion changes: Those autoplay trailers/promos that pop up while viewers are browsing the site — somewhat key in Netflix’s tune-in content efforts — will now have an optional off-switch for Netflix subscribers.

Although Netflix has garnered big Oscar hardware, its longtime marketing focus for awards seems to separate its brand from Disney+ — especially with the goal of continuing to find “quality” TV and movies. This isn’t to say Disney+ won’t pursue that objective. For decades, the Disney brand boasted staying power among consumers.

What’s the brand battle, then? For Netflix and Disney+, it may be a contest between a wannabe quality, awards-nominated, adult-skewing premium content platform versus a longtime family-oriented/wide-appealing entertainment brand.

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