In a world where multiple streaming services compete for our attention at the expense of a few major consolidated media conglomerates, Disney has announced their next move in the battle to capture consumer attention. Beginning as early as March 24 in Western Europe, Disney will begin to roll out their new streaming service Disney+ to other countries across the world.
Although the service has been available in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the Netherlands since November of last year, Disney+ has remained absent in a variety of other locations across the world. This will all change in a matter of weeks though, as Disney+ is set to launch in many Western European countries (including the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, and Italy) on March 24 in addition to India on March 29.
Planned to roll out to other countries across the world over the course of the next two years, Disney’s streaming service has yet to hit vital regions including Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Asia Pacific. Not only has the staggered international rollout of Disney+ upset many fans in these regions, but it has also resulted in a number of piracy issues regarding highly demanded shows like “The Mandalorian.”
The global launch of Disney+ is expected to have huge repercussions in the streaming industry, specifically on competing streaming service Netflix, who has already lost 1.1 million subscribers since Disney+ launched. While these figures might not seem dramatic in the grand scheme of the company’s 167 million subscribers worldwide, Netflix will be facing a number of other heavy blows later in the year that may very likely cause even more users to unsubscribe.
One major issue Netflix is facing this year is the loss of two of its most popular shows, “Friends” and “The Office,” as AT&T/WarnerMedia and NBCUniversal launch their own streaming services HBO Max and Peacock, respectively. In an ongoing fight to combat these large media conglomerates, Netflix has ramped up the production of their own original content (i.e. “The Witcher,” “Stranger Things,” “BoJack Horseman”) and launched aggressive social media campaigns to advertise this content.
But is this enough to compete with Disney+? Within the past few months alone Disney has added a major amount of content to its streaming service including original movies like “Togo,” new episodes of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” and the live-action remakes of “Aladdin” and “The Lion King.” In the near future Disney+ will also be adding “Black Panther,” the second season of “The Mandalorian” and a slew of original shows in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
With the near worldwide launch of Disney+ and other new streaming services, the future of the mass media landscape will change drastically. Posing as a major threat to pre-existing independent companies that once acted as sole sites for media convergence, the streaming world is slowly branching out and shifting towards consolidation at the helm of a few dominant corporate conglomerates.
Raising questions of ethics and concerns for media consumption in the future, streaming may very likely soon find itself in the same situation cable television was cornered into years ago: consumers paying too much money to multiple different types of providers for content. The effects from the global launch of Disney+, which may possibly mark the start of this new chapter in the broader streaming industry, will ripple across the world for many years to come.