Disney+ Draws An Unexpected Audience, Which May Impact Content

With all research and preparations, big legacy TV companies can guess wrong with it comes to new products. Even the Walt Disney Company.

But in this case, that's good news — a different consumer segmentation than initially realized.

Bob Chapek, CEO of Walt Disney, says the company was surprised to discover that 50% of the 95 million global customers now subscribing to Disney+, the premium streaming platform, are households without kids.

“When 50% of the [subscribers to] Disney+ don’t have kids, you really have the opportunity to think much more broadly about the nature of your content,” he said recently at an investor conference.

In the fall of 2019, when Disney was debuting the new Disney+ and talking about wanting to compete with Netflix (and the industry expecting the streamer to do so) the company was perhaps thinking a bit more modestly.



Mostly, that it would be an “all family” TV service. For many, this may have felt too narrow a consumer target, especially for a company that has wider appeal.

Theme parks Disneyland and Disney World, while naturally all-family entertainment, can extend to other consumers. And many of the big theatrical movie franchises -- Marvel’s “Avengers” or Lucafilm’s “Star Wars” -- have wider reach.

But to hear Chapek tell it, global customers for Disney+ might expect content to skew differently in the future.

Even given its size and library, it still needs much more content to rival Netflix. Disney+ still releases episodes for original TV series -- on a one-per-week schedule -- just like on live, linear TV networks. Netflix still offers a full season’s worth of new episodes when available.

So while Disney needs to be aggressive and progressive with new business, there is always caution.

Take theatrical distribution. Unlike some other studios, it isn’t ready to chuck the entire system. Unlike WarnerMedia which, this year, is releasing theatrical movies in cinemas at the same time as on the HBO Max streaming service, Disney is only doing this on a case-by-case basis.  Disney+ did it for “Mulan” and the upcoming “Raya and the Last Dragon” (March 5). Even then, to get the movie will cost an extra $30 per rental.

But let's circle back to the family programming assumption: “What we didn’t realize was the non-family appeal that a service like Disney+ would have,” says Chapek.

So how much will change? Another 50% of non-family content coming to the Disney streamer? Now 16 months old, Disney+, may have more surprises in store.

2 comments about "Disney+ Draws An Unexpected Audience, Which May Impact Content".
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  1. Alice Sylvester from Sequent Partners, March 5, 2021 at 8:40 a.m.

    I wonder where they get their demos. Global? Maybe a subscriber study?? But if it's anything else I wonder if this is a data matching issue. Of course their content has appeal beyond kids, but 50%??

  2. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, March 5, 2021 at 9:26 a.m.

    Alice, I assume that it's just a case of a big shot spouting "information" that he doesn't fully understand the significance of---or lack of same.

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