Streaming: An over-saturated and now Disney-fied market

Like Maleficent showing up uninvited to Aurora’s christening, Disney+ is making a powerful, somewhat-scary-but-still-enticing entrance on 19 November 2019 as a new streaming service to compete for our ever-increasing penchant for binge-watching.

This has been in the works for months, with Disney removing a bunch of content from other streaming services to add to their lexicon in addition to producing brand new shows and movies – including much awaited Star Wars and Marvel content.

But with the streaming market already overpopulated, where does this leave services such as Netflix, Stan, Foxtel Now and Amazon Prime?

This change will send ripple effects through the rest of the streaming ecosystem, as yet another platform appears, now hosting some of our favourite shows and movies.

With so many options available, viewers might find themselves paying more and more for the increasingly fractured content stream they desire, likely having to cut back or cancel some subscriptions. Some likely turn to less-legal avenues, such as illegal streaming and downloads.

Viewers only have finite time and funds – but there seems to be infinite media.

A key concern is what this means for original (non-adaptation, sequel or franchise) content when there is less money coming in if viewers are lost.

Netflix has a well-established record of producing their own – often award-winning – original content.

Shows like Stranger Things, Black Mirror, Mindhunter, and GLOW may not have ever attracted the backing of big production companies like Disney, but each have proved hugely popular drawcards for the service.

In turns political, confronting, artistic, and bizarre, Netflix’s original content has shown how creative competition encourages creators to push boundaries and test new waters – something that can only be regarded as a plus for viewers.

On the other hand, Disney+ seems set on the tried-and-true route of offering plenty of what we’re already good at consuming, but not so much of anything new.

Auteur Martin Scorsese recently described Marvel films, a key element of the Disney+ marketing plan, as ‘amusement parks’ rather than real ‘cinema’.

While our old streaming services will be under the pump thanks to the increased competition, Disney+ will also be under intense scrutiny from viewers and critics eager to know how they will balance money-making exercises with artistic pursuits.

And with streaming services already having adapted to the streaming culture of ‘binging’ by offering long form storytelling rather than stand along punches, it will be interesting to see how Disney content is influenced by the new platform.

Disney lovers are plentiful and many will likely sign up in droves from day one. But as consumers, they’ll also likely be wary of the content their money will support.

For now, all we can do is wait to see how this big, (hopefully, friendly) giant will affect the streaming services we know and love.

Image by Rachael Sharman