How the Disney+ Unveiling Succeeded in All the Ways That Apple TV+’s Failed

The streaming service sets the bar sky-high for the next wave of OTT rivals

In its first year, Disney+ will feature more than 7,500 television episodes and 500 films.
Disney

At first, Thursday’s Disney’s Investor Day presentation, during which the company finally took the wraps off its Disney+ streaming service, threatened to turn into a repeat performance of Apple’s own event two weeks earlier, in which that company promised to share details about its own upcoming direct-to-consumer offering, but never followed through. So there was a feeling of déjà vu early on as Disney execs talked about how they “couldn’t wait” to show the audience more, before moving on to the next topic without doing so.

But then, something shocking happened—or at least, shocking compared to how little information Apple had parceled out earlier: Disney actually brought the goods. There were lengthy clips from new series like its live-action Star Wars series, The Mandalorian (well, at least those in attendance at the studio lot in Burbank, Calif. event could watch). There was an in-depth look at the platform’s user experience. There was a comprehensive rundown of all the content—both library and original—that will appear on Disney+. And most importantly, there was a launch date (Nov. 12) and a price announcement (just $6.99 per month, or $69.99 a year).

In that three-hour event, Disney managed to succeed in all the ways that Apple had failed just two weeks earlier—while simultaneously throwing down the gauntlet for its other rivals who are planning on rolling out streaming services of their own in the next year (Comcast, AT&T, Discovery and Apple): try and top this!

Because as streamaggedon hits in the next year—as all those new streaming offerings enter an already overcrowded space that includes Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, CBS All Access and every premium cable network’s OTT platform—consumers will be forced to make some brutal decisions about which streaming services they will subscribe to each month.

Many top execs in the streaming industry agree that most households will only be able to afford two or three of these services at the most, meaning that the freshman OTT crop will have to be impressive, and essential, enough to hold their own with the veterans who have been stocking their libraries for several years already.

And with its impressive presentation Thursday, Disney managed to do just that. On the library content front, it boasted some big numbers: more than 7,500 television episodes and 500 films in its first year: including family-friendly titles from both Disney and the company’s newly-acquired Fox movie and TV studios. Much of the content will be organized into the company’s five major pillars—Disney, Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel and National Geographic—which when it comes to pop culture, are as about as essential as it gets. And, in a surprise announcement, the service will include 30 seasons of The Simpsons, which until now had been available for streaming only via the FX Now app.

Its original slate is also massive: in its first year, Disney+ will stream more than 25 original series, as well as 10 films, documentaries and specials. Many of those offerings will be irresistible to kids: a new Star Wars series, multiple Marvel shows starring characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a High School Musical series, a show based on the Monsters, Inc. characters, a Phineas and Ferb movie and a live-action Lady and the Tramp movie. On its launch date alone, Disney+ will have nine exclusive TV series, movies and documentaries.

Contrast that with Apple, whose underwhelming presentation was so generic that it could have applied to nearly any network or streaming outlet in the premium content business. (Indeed, many of the A-list names that Apple paraded onstage—including Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon and JJ Abrams—have multiple TV projects with other outlets.)

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