Disney+ launch to shake up local streaming scene

Streaming site launch marred by problems and prompts calls for local content quotas as it enters a crowded streaming market

Disney+, the streaming platform from the iconic studio, launches in Australia and New Zealand today, following  news reports of hacked accounts and a troubled US launch last week. The new streaming service will be home to hours of shows from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic, and will add further pressure to existing players.

News reports claim Disney+ users accounts in the US have been hacked, with passwords changed or account details altered, and thousands of accounts for sale on hacking forums. This comes after the launch got off to a rocky start with customers complaining of having trouble signing into the streaming service, problems accessing content and facing hours of delays. Disney says the service had 10 million sign-ups in the first 24 hours of debuting in the US last week, with rapid, unprecedented demand causing the issues.

In Australia, the local launch of Disney+ has prompted calls from the Greens for local content quotas, which the party says are a huge boost for Australian creative content and deliver jobs for local creatives, but are too weak at present and don't apply to overseas streaming outfits. 

“These overseas streaming services create very little employment in Australia and often pay very little tax, the least they could do in exchange for consumer dollars is spend some money on local content," said Greens Senator, Sarah Hanson-Young

“The screen and music industries inject almost $14billion into our economy and employ hundreds of thousands of people so it makes good economic sense to support this industry and share it with the rest of the world."

The launch presents a challenge for Australian streaming site, Stan, which now can't offer Disney content as part of its catalogue for subscribers and this could be a big enough drawcard to lure viewers over to Disney. As part of a 2020 Trends insights series, market research company, GlobalWebIndex, studied consumer nostalgia and suggests the two biggest motivators to persuade viewers to sign up for the new Disney+ streaming service, which include having shows and films from their childhood (42 per cent) along with its catalogue of the hugely popular Pixar films (46 per cent) which includes the Toy Story franchise, Finding Nemo, and many others.

Coming shortly after the launch of Apple TV+, another new streaming service entering the local market is likely to add more pressure on Foxtel in Australia, which has been struggling in recent years, posting a $417 million before tax loss in 2018 and shedding 100,000 subscribers from its pay TV service in the first quarter of 2019.

In a sign of the effect of the increasingly competitive streaming market, this year alone, Foxtel has partnered with Netflix to offer shows from the popular streaming site through its pay TV service, overhauled its content and advertising offering, launched a new loyalty program, and seen many departures from its top marketing and advertising positions.

The Disney+ platform will cost $8.99 per month, or $89 for a full year subscription, and will be available on a range of mobile and TV devices, including gaming consoles, streaming media players and smart TVs. It will offer unlimited downloads and access to four concurrent streams at any one time.

The catalogue includes feature films, documentaries, scripted and unscripted series, and short-form content along with new and upcoming movies from the Walt Disney Studios, including Captain MarvelDumboAvengers: EndgameAladdinToy Story 4, The Lion KingMaleficent: Mistress of EvilFrozen 2, and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

Disney+ will join a plethora of streaming platforms available to Australian viewers, including the flagship outfit Netflix, local service Stan, and Foxtel Now, a spin-off from the Foxtel pay TV service, along with Amazon’s Prime Video, and the recently launched Apple TV+. Time will tell how the addition of the two new players, Disney+ and Apple TV+, affects the overall streaming market in Australia. It could see more viewers abandon pay TV in favour of having multiple streaming subscriptions and even lead to a consolidation of streaming sites if viewers aren’t willing to carry multiple subscriptions across several platforms. It may signal that as streaming matures, sites with deep catalogues from a small number of studios become more appealing than the platforms with broad content libraries hoping to have something for everyone, but giving subscribers the sense of paying for a large catalogue of shows which aren't all being watched from week to week.

In related news, Disney+ released a Snapchat augmented reality (AR) lens to accompany the new live action version of the classic animation Lady and the Tramp. It overlays images of the characters onto the plate of spaghetti on a checkered tablecloth, illuminated from an overhead virtual light. New users can even sign up for the streaming service using Snapchat’s Shoppable AR link which takes them to the Disney+ site to register.

It’s not the first time the studio has adopted a Snapchat AR tool to promote a film - it was used at the launch of Incredibles 2 and Avengers: Infinity War

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia 

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