Disney will launch its Disney+ streaming service with less than 20% of the content that Netflix has, but plans to place an emphasis on quality over quantity with its offerings. The Mouse House is officially throwing its hat in the ring with its streaming subscription, in an effort to continue its dominance of the marketplace in the face of an ongoing shift away from traditional home entertainment platforms in favor of services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and CBS All Access. Of course, since they're trying to compete with the likes of Netflix, it's not enough for Disney to merely toss all their movies and TV shows (sans Song of the South, anyway) onto a streamer of their own.
Company CEO Bob Iger recently confirmed what industry analysts have long recognized - that Disney's purchase of Fox's assets was about beefing up its Disney + content library, and not making it possible for the X-Men and Fantastic Four to share the screen with the Avengers in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The Mouse House is also in the process of developing original material for Disney+, with the intention of making projects like the live-action Star Wars series The Mandalorian and the live-action Lady and the Tramp remake immediately available when the service launches.
Even with the combined might of fresh IP, classic Disney titles, and Fox movies and TV shows (including, all 30 seasons of The Simpsons) at its disposal, Variety reports that Disney+ will launch with just 16% of Netflix's TV catalogue in the U.S. and 12.5% of its movie library. The news shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who's been keeping an eye on Netflix's recent efforts to expand its content library, which includes spending upwards of $15 billion in 2019 alone. For the sake of comparison, Disney plans to spend $1 billion on original programming for Disney+ in its first year, with annual spending expected to rise to $2.5 billion by 2024.
This is where the issue of quality comes in. Disney's original content rates higher than Netflix and Amazon's on average when it comes to consumer perception, thanks to a combination of the Disney brand and the acclaimed franchises that the company owns, like the MCU, Star Wars, and Pixar Animation (if you think of Pixar's collective filmography as a franchise). Netflix has made some big gains in that department in recent years thanks to the Oscar-winning film Roma and new series like Russian Doll, but overall the streamer's name just isn't the guarantee of quality that Disney is right now. The streamer is determined to improve its standing in that area over the next year, but they've got a ways to go before they can compete with the Mouse House.
Meanwhile, Disney is hoping that the combination of a relatively low cost (with streaming bundle options available) and the weight that its name carries will be enough to get people to sign up in large numbers for Disney+ at launch. It's a risky move, even for a corporate monster as big as the House that Mickey Built, but one that could pay off handsomely, if successful. And the more that streamers like Disney+ succeed and push consumers to finally cut the cord on traditional pay TV, the more it actually benefits Netflix, Amazon, and the rest of the streaming gang.
Disney+ launches in the U.S. on November 12, 2019.