The term “Netflix Killer” has been thrown around ever since Netflix launched its streaming service, but the use of the term kicked up in November of 2019 with the launch of Disney+. Two years later, Netflix is bigger than ever and whilst Disney+ is quickly catching up internationally.  But recently, in the US, Disney+ seems to be losing traction to every other streaming service. Let’s look at why Disney is falling behind and how they can catch up.


Too Much Focus On Franchises:

Now people will tell me the core reason you would subscribe to Disney+, especially in the US, is to access the Disney catalogue and whilst that’s true when you look at the hit shows on Disney+, they are all tied to either Star Wars or the MCU. Disney+ Originals from Disney themselves including “Turner and Hooch” “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series”, “Mighty Ducks: Game Changers”, “Big Shot”, “Diary Of A Future President”, “The Mysterious Benedict Society”, “Doogie Kamealoha” and “Just Beyond” whilst all rather well made and very different shows, these shows kind of just came out and they were quickly forgotten.  Plus these shows are generally skewed to a younger audience than the Marvel and Star Wars shows.

Many people have told me if you’re not a Marvel or Star Wars fan, Disney+ will probably struggle to keep your attention when it comes to the content they offer you for your subscription fee. The key thing for streaming services is the variety of the content provided, and when you consider nobody talks about any of the live-action Disney-branded Disney+ Original series but everyone lost their minds over “The Mandalorian”, “Wandavision”, “Falcon and The Winter Soldier” and “Loki”. If you don’t have kids and you’re not a massive Star Wars or Marvel fan, or are just interested in the back catalogue, then Disney is basically saying, “Get Hulu instead”.


Now I understand franchises are Disney’s biggest weapon against Netflix but remember Netflix has had hit original shows like “Stranger Things” and “Squid Game”, which AREN’T based on preexisting franchises and yet were streamed by tens of millions, or in Squid Game’s case, over ONE HUNDRED MILLION people.


Where Is The TVPG and TV14 Content?

Recently, Disney Ceo Bob Chapek discussed Disney’s plan to try to conquer the preschool TV streaming market, but it made me ask the question, in the US, why are there so few TVPG and TV14 series on Disney+? Some notable shows Disney+ could utilise to appeal to slightly older audiences without going too mature include, “Futurama”, “Modern Family”, “Zorro”, “Blackish”, “The Fosters”, “The Wonder Years”, “Home Improvement” and “Doogie Howser.


Disney’s TV library is vast and includes well over ten thousand series over ABC, the Disney Channels, Freeform, FX and 20th Television. Disney could do more to offer more content, especially for older audiences, without alienating Disney’s family audience. Just looking at the eight shows I’ve listed in the paragraph above would fit Disney+’s family-friendly brand image in the US.

Netflix, on the other hand, has a TV library for all ages, whether that be a mixture of children’s content like “Kid Cosmic” and “Hilda” to maturer shows like “Stranger Things” and “Bojack Horseman” so they absolutely dwarf Disney+’s minuscule TV selection.


Not Enough Focus On Disney’s Legacy Content:

This is something that is rather heartbreaking to many Disney fans. On this site alone, there is an article link to 800 missing titles article chronicling all the missing content which would fit on Disney+, which Disney full owns. There are films within Disney’s vault, including “Make Mine Music”, tons of Disney live-action movies, several missing “Muppet” movies, a truckload of family-friendly ABC and Freeform films and dozens of missing classic Disney Channel and Saturday morning cartoons.


Disney+ marketed itself back in 2019 as “The Disney Vault Unlocked”, yet we know now that they haven’t kept up on its promises and have added very little content from its back catalogue since launch. Disney needs to really improve on this area as it’s the one thing they could dominate Netflix on as Netflix has to license content that was made pre-2013. Disney has been creating content since 1923, so Disney could utilise their back catalogue to fill out its selection of titles.


Lack Of Features:

Let me first say credit where credit is due. Good work to the Disney+ team to be the first streamer to have IMAX enhanced movies; however, it currently has 13 titles, and they’re all MCU movies.  Could Star Wars be next? Also, well done for adding a basic “coming soon” section, it only took two years, but besides these new features, Disney+ lacks behind so many other services, especially Netflix.

With Disney+, there is no “watchlist” row on the homepage, which makes the feature rather useless. There is also no “play trailer” feature when you click on a movie or a series, which could be useful for subscribers to be able to determine if they want to actually watch the content on the screen in front of them. It would also be nice if we had a “remove from continue watching” feature for shows and movies which people have lost interest in and do not want to continue watching.


Too Many Licensing Contracts:

This is the biggest knock against Disney+ in the US as it holds so much content hostage. Currently, as of writing this, Disney still has licensing deals with Starz, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Hulu and the juggernaut deal HBO. With the licensing agreements, the Netflix ones should come to an end over the next few years. Amazon is mostly for movies, which Disney may only have partial rights to. The Hulu deal should have been sorted out since Disney is the majority owner, but Starz and HBO really screw Disney+ over.


Back in 2012, 20th Century Fox signed a ten year deal with HBO for library films and new releases from the cinema. When Disney took over 20th Century Fox in 2019, they didn’t buy out that deal, meaning films like 20th Century Animation’s “Ron’s Gone Wrong” can’t go to Disney+ after 45 days because they have to go HBO. This deal has also resulted in several movies being added to Disney+, including “Mrs Doubtfire”, the “Home Alone” movies and the “Percy Jackson” movies, only for them to be removed for them to return to HBO. The Starz deal has also affected several films availability on Disney+ in the US, including several “Ice Age” movies and the live-action “Cinderella” movie from 2015.

Whilst Netflix is losing many movies and series due to the launches of Disney+, Paramount+, HBO Max etc., they’ve also started to produce more originals to fill that void. Disney pushed at launch that “no title ever leaves”, but they can’t access their full potential until all their licensing deals expire.


How To Improve:

  1. The first thing Disney needs to do is buy out all its preexisting contracts and add everything from Disney, Touchstone and 20th Century Studios film libraries that is rated up to PG-13 to Disney+ where possible.
  2. Disney needs to start moving some of its TVPG and TV14 rated television series from ABC, Freeform and 20th Television.
  3. Disney+ needs to add more features and improve features that they already have on the service.
  4. Adding more of its legacy movies and series would be a major way to improve its offering. It should be easy enough for Disney to sort out the quality issues and music licensing issues. It just comes down to if Disney wants to pay the price for them.
  5. Finally, Disney needs to try and define Disney+ as more than just Marvel and Star Wars titles. Whilst I understand their importance to the service, Disney needs more Disney+ originals that are hits and don’t carry the Marvel or Star Wars branding.

Those are just my thoughts though, what are yours? Do you think Disney+ in the US is on Netflix’s level or not?

 

Tweet me on Twitter @realENHolloway












Ethan Holloway

Ethan "Neil" Holloway is a huge Marvel, Star Wars and Pixar fan who grew up with Disney movies like Iron Man and The Lion King. Ethan has always been fascinated by movies especially ones that give a fair representation to those of disabled backgrounds and hopes to one day publish a novel with Disney Publishing Worldwide. You can call Ethan the "Disney Anime Guy" if you want.

Related Article

Write a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

2 Comments

  1. Tom November 20, 2021

    Let me comment on your points: How To Improve: The first thing Disney needs to do is buy out all its preexisting contracts and add everything from Disney, Touchstone and 20th Century Studios film libraries that is rated up to PG-13 to Disney+ where possible. Disney needs to start moving some of its TVPG and TV14 rated television series from ABC, Freeform and 20th Television. -First off, do you even know how these contracts are written? It may not be so easy to buy out of them. Or it could be very cost prohibitve to do so. If buying out of contracts was so simple, do you think Sony would still own the movie rights to Spider-Man? Or that Universal would own the rights to Marvel rides on the East Coast? There is alot more to this than just wanting to do it. Disney+ needs to add more features and improve features that they already have on the service. Adding more of its legacy movies and series would be a major way to improve its offering. It should be easy enough for Disney to sort out the quality issues and music licensing issues. It just comes down to if Disney wants to pay the price for them. Disney has added alot of features for a service that is only two years old. Some are small like continuously adding more profile pictures to choose and others are more advanced like the IMAX. There also has been alot of other changes that are not enhancements but more corrections. Fixing the order of epiisodes, correcting aspect ratio, stuff like that. It takes time. While Disney+ is a major focus of the company, it still has a budget. Alot of that budget is tied to original programming, expansion into other markets and updating the service. The pandemic took away alot of revenue streams from Disney from their amusement parks being closed and then opened to limited to crowds to losing revenue from their movies going to the theatres to not having their cruise ships running. Under normal circumstances, they would probably allocate more money to Disney+, but with so much revenue lost, I am sure they had to limit some of the money being spent. Regarding adding legacy content, they have added alot. Is there alot left to add? Of course there is. But it takes time and money to do this. It is more than just licensing the music. It involves cleaning up the prints, making sure there is close captioning for it, translating it into many languages, going over it to see if it contains any innappropriate content. Again with the lost revenue from other Disney lines, they probably limited the budget for this. They put a bigger emphasis on adding newer Disney channel content because most of this has already been done. And it appeals to kids who are their main audience. I hate how people complain when they say "Disney said they were opening the vaults". First off, they did not say they were putting everything up immediately. They said they were opening them and they have. Almost every animated Disney movie is available to watch. All the Pixar movies are there. They brought out alot of legacy stuff like all five seasons of the Muppets, the Alice in Wonderland show from the Disney channel, a ton of Disney channel shows and movies, a bunch of classic Disney movies. More will be added in time. People need to have some patience. Finally, Disney needs to try and define Disney+ as more than just Marvel and Star Wars titles. Whilst I understand their importance to the service, Disney needs more Disney+ originals that are hits and don’t carry the Marvel or Star Wars branding. -Disney has defined what they are, a family friendly streaming service. One that is focused on the stable of successful franchises they own. Are they a Netflix killer? No, but they don't need to be. If you have children in your house, there is a good chance you have Disney+. Does that mean it will be your only streaming service? No, most families will have another one or two. Why does Disney+ have to beat Netflix? Why can they not co-exist? Disney theme parks are not out to be Six Flags killers. They are two different kinds of parks. Some people like an amusement park like Six Flags that is more about thrill rides and less about theming and story. Others like Disney with rides that are not as thrilling as roller coasters but are something the whole family can ride ane enjoy. Both do very well and cater to different and sometimes the same audience. Why can't Disney+ and Netlix be the same? As far as more than just Star Wars and Marvel, Disney is doing this. They have series based on Willow, Percy Jackson and other series in the works. Again, this takes time. They need to secure licenses, set up show runners, directors, writers, etc... And this is before they need to hire the actors. It takes time to get all of this done as well as shoot the episodes and add CGI and other special effects. 2023 and beyond is when we will really see Disney+ take off. Unfortunately, the pandemic slowed filming. But as things slowly return to normal, you will see more and more content coming to not only Disney+ but also the other services as well.

  2. Matthew A. November 20, 2021

    I do agree that Home Improvement would be great on Disney+. I think it will eventually be added. The only thing I can think of that is keeping Disney from adding it to Disney+ is that here in the US, for at least the last 4 years episodes of Home Improvement have been airing on the network CMT (Country Music Television) which is owned by ViacomCBS. Hopefully when that deal runs out it won’t have to air on any other channel after that. For Disney+ to improve I thing they should add something like the Star brand like they have done internationally. They also need to add Corey in the House, Angels in the Outfield, Angels in the Infield and Angels in the End Zone. Those titles aren’t on any other streaming services, so i’m not sure why they aren’t on Disney+ yet.