Disney+ launched yesterday to much fanfare, but the entire thing risked being overshadowed by the announcement of a Friends reunion being in the works for HBO Max. Disney and WarnerMedia are now two of the big players in the streaming wars, with the latter's HBO Max set to be a competitor to Disney+ when it goes live next year. There are some obvious battle lines to be drawn between the two - mostly Marvel vs DC - but this is a little more unexpected.
The release of Disney+ was a huge deal for the Mouse House, the payoff for something that's been a long time in the making, although it didn't completely go without a hitch. Nonetheless, despite some problems, it seemed like Disney+'s combination of The Mandalorian, Star Wars and Marvel movies, and such an extensive back catalog of Disney favorites had shot it straight to the top of the pile when it comes to streaming services.
That makes the reports of the Friends reunion breaking on the same day as Disney+ launching seem like a very deliberate move from WarnerMedia. Friends remains one of the most popular shows in the world, especially in terms of streaming audiences, and it's one of the jewels in the crown of HBO Max. To announce a Friends reunion on any day would've been a huge deal and guaranteed to make major headlines, but that they chose to reveal the news - even without 100% confirmation just yet - on the day of Disney+ is a total and massive power play from the company; a shot fired in the early stages of the streaming wars.
Of course, the Friends reunion is set to be unscripted, and therefore perhaps not the new proper episode some fans might want, but that doesn't matter too much right now when the key motive is driving interest in the streaming service. If there's one possible weakness of the Mouse House's streaming service, it's that Disney+ can't quite compete with Netflix in terms of its range of shows and movies as it's somewhat limited to Disney-owned, more family-friendly properties. The biggest steaming shows in the world are The Office and Friends, and reports of the latter's reunion is a huge flex from HBO Max.
During the launch presentation, HBO Max threw a lot of shade at Disney+ and Netflix, and using the former's launch day to reveal what's going to be one of its biggest initial draws, the Friends reunion, only continues that. As the streaming wars further heat up with more services launching and more content being produced, we can probably expect more of these kinds of antics over the next few months in a bid to win subscribers.