There are many questions about Disney’s new streaming service, Disney+ and with the new platform due to launch in late 2019, the Hollywood Reporter spoke with Disney’s direct-to-consumer and international division chairman, Kevin Mayer.
During the interview, Kevin talked about the purchase of 21st Century Fox and discussed some aspects regarding Disney+ including app design, exclusive content, the Netflix Marvel shows and much more.
Here are some highlights from this interview related to Disney+:
What will the impact of the Disney-Fox deal be on the entertainment industry?
We are going to offer really compelling services to consumers. We are going to let them choose what they want to buy and what they don’t want to buy. That’s starting to have a ripple effect on the industry. We’re not trying to beat anyone or triumph over anyone. We’re just trying to serve our consumers better.
Consumers on average pay for between three and four streaming services. How will you make sure Disney+ is one of them?
We have to take our content and make it as exclusive as we can to our service. We have to make the app and the technology pretty seamless. You can find our content under our key brands, which is a real differentiator for us.
What did you learn from the launch of ESPN+ that you’ll apply to Disney+?
It validates our strategy. If you put high-quality content in front of people that want it and you have the technology that works and you market it the right way, you can succeed. I think that enhances our expectations for the rest of our launches.
What’s the right mix of original and licensed programming on Disney+?
Many of our core brands are going to be in that service. Some of this content will have an initial window, like a theatrically released film, some will be on television first, some will be original for the service. It will skew naturally from an hours perspective, because of how much we’ve invested over the years, toward product that’s non-original, but we’re making a lot of original content.
Would you consider reviving the Marvel shows that Netflix canceled?
They are very high-quality shows. We haven’t yet discussed that, but I would say that’s a possibility.
Would you have renewed the Friends deal with Netflix if you had been in WarnerMedia’s position?
I’m sure [WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey] had his reasons, but when we were faced with a similar decision, to take [our programming] off in preparation to put it on our own service, that was right for us. We will continue to do that. Ultimately our direct-to-consumer service is going to be the only place you can find that content.
WarnerMedia said it will explore selling its stake in Hulu, and Comcast could do the same. Is it your goal to own 100 percent of that business?
We’re open-minded to outcomes here. Maybe that would happen someday. We’re not in any active discussions right now.
How does Hulu fit into your international plans?
We would like to have an international trilogy of services where it makes sense. We want a sports service like we have here; we want a general entertainment service, which would be Hulu, in different places around the world where we don’t have that; and we want to have Disney around the world. An international rollout of Hulu would be something that we’d be very interested in, and we’re talking to Hulu about that now.
My Take: There are a few key points to take away from this interview, first is the comment on the Marvel shows on Netflix coming to Disney+, which seemed more about keeping the door open, but being vague enough since the contract is still in play.
There was also an interesting point about release schedule of content, while Disney keeping cinema releases isn’t a surprise, since they’ve made a fair few Billion dollars this year alone. But the comment about some shows appearing on TV first, shows they are still treating their channels as a important outlet. But appearing first was very vague, that could be years, months, days, hours or even minutes after they air on TV.
Having Disney+ as a global platform looks to be important for the company, along with Hulu and ESPN+. With Disney having a controlling stake in Hulu, once they’ve purchased Fox, it could take time for them to buy out Comcast and Time Warner. So until Hulu is fully under Disney’s control, it will no doubt play second fiddle to Disney+.
What do you think of Kevin Mayer’s comments?