Come November 12, TV will be turned upside down once again thanks to the arrival of Disney+, Disney’s new subscription service that will offer movies and series from the likes of Disney, Marvel, Pixar and Star Wars. That means subscribers will have access to all of the Marvel movies – from Iron Man to Endgame – and all Star Wars movies, just in time for fans to refresh themselves before Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker premieres later this year.
The two key differentiators for the new service are the price: $6.99 per month—or $5.83 per month for subscribers who opt for the annual plan—and the strength of the entertainment brands it will offer. The service also will allow for multiple concurrent users as well as the option to download and keep content for as long as someone remains subscribed.
Marketing around the new streaming service is just getting underway, but “the biggest challenge is making sure consumers know this isn’t an app for kids,” said Joe Earley, executive vice president, marketing and operations, Disney+ at the Promax Conference 2019 in Los Angeles. “The Disney name is so powerful, and all of [the Disney+] content is PG-13, TV-14 or below – there’s nothing M, nothing R. A lot of people will assume this is for parents with kids.”
While it’s intended to be a service that kids can use, it also will offer plenty of content for adults.
Having observed other streaming services in this space, such as Netflix, Hulu and CBS All Access, the importance of original series is clear to Disney. That’s why the service will launch with the first live-action Star Wars series, The Mandalorian, executive produced by Jon Favreau.
Strong library content, with which Disney is flush with the acquisition of 21st Century Fox, also will be in play on Disney+. The service will offer all 30 seasons of The Simpsons at debut, Earley told Laurel Bernard, treasurer of the Promax board of directors, who previously worked with Earley at Fox.
“[Having The Simpsons] was really important to me,” said Earley. “Doing publicity for The Simpsons was my first job in Fox publicity and I have been very close to the franchise. For me, [having that series] was important to signify the elasticity that Disney+ has.”
Both of those series should also signal to potential subscribers that Disney+ has broad appeal.
“Disney+ is a very broad offering – each one of these brands is distinct and established,” said Earley. “So how do you choose out of the catalog what you are using to market? How do you segment it so that a young millennial sees The Mandalorian, but does not see a bunch of princess movies?”
Earley also will be relying heavily on the skills of the in-house teams at both the studios and networks to help with the overall marketing efforts, Earley said, noting that he doesn’t have a large marketing team that’s solely dedicated to the new streaming service.
“We are a start-up within the company and we are designed that way,” he said.
Earley joined the company after being gently recruited by Ricky Strauss, Disney+‘s head of content and marketing. At the time, he was working with Gail Berman as president of her Jackal Group. Three years earlier, he had departed his job as chief operating officer for Fox.
“I was very happy. I love Gail Berman like a sister; we were great partners,” Earley told Bernard. “We were doing film, TV, scripted, unscripted, digital, Broadway – we were making great stuff, I was loving it. I was not looking.”
Earley thought he would take the lunch with Strauss, and develop the relationship so Jackal Group could sell shows to Disney+.
But “the more he started talking about the power of these brands all in one place – as he told me the price point and the target level of subscriptions, I was like ‘this thing is going to sell itself.’ And then I started to think ‘this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Who else has brands like this?‘”
[Images by Memoryscape]