Last week, Disney held its annual investor day. These days, they are no longer just for investors but for Disney fans as well. This is where they announce films and TV shows that are upcoming in order to build excitement and assure investors that the future is bright for the Disney company. In 2020, the name of the game is streaming. Most of the announcements were for their streaming service Disney+. More than anything, this investor day may have solved Disney+’s biggest issue from the last year.
When Disney+ was first announced, they revealed a ton of new content that was going to launch with the service and more that would be rolled out throughout the year. Some of the biggest announcements were new Marvel and Star Wars shows for the service. There was also an exciting lineup of new shows and movies from all across the Disney family platforms; Pixar, Disney, ESPN, and so much more. As of now, only a small fraction of that content actually made it to Disney+.
Shows like Love, Victor were moved to Hulu and the Lizzie McQuire reboot was cancelled altogether, not to mention shows like Monsters At Work that haven’t been mentioned since they were announced. To date The Mandalorian and High School Musical: The Musical: The Series are the only high profile scripted programs on the service. Most of the content that Disney+ streams are docuseries or documentaries about the various Disney productions and departments. While the pandemic was certainly part of the reason why some of the scripted content didn’t get released, such was the case for the Marvel and Star Wars shows, this seemed to cause an identity crisis with the streaming service.
Some of the content that was moved or cancelled was due in part to being perceived as “too adult.” Disney was determined that this service be “kid friendly.” It was such a vague term, that many didn’t know exactly what it meant. For example, in the first episode of The Mandalorian the main character cuts a guy in half. And, every single episode of The Simpsons is currently streaming. So, how are these “kid friendly?” Is it just because they didn’t have any sexual content?
Any number of speculations can be made about what “too adult” really means, but coming out of the investor day, Disney+ appears to have solved their identity crisis. With brand new and exciting Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar, and Disney content, they seemed to have settled on the type of stories they want to tell on their service. While some may say that the influx of new shows is overwhelming, it could be seen as storytellers being excited to finally have the free reign they’ve always wanted. Instead of content that they don’t want on their service, people are developing content that they know audiences want; Content that stays within the Disney brand and still allows a certain amount of creative freedom for filmmakers and showrunners.
Many of their brands have already been developed for families of all ages. By tapping into that, Disney+ won’t have to worry about anything being “too adult.” It’s a safe move for sure, but Disney hasn’t been in the market of taking risks in quite some time, so it is certainly what is expected. By putting all their eggs in the brand basket, Disney won’t risk running into the same problem they had with the Lizzie McQuire reboot, although fans might lament the loss of that show for a while.
It might not be the best move, and it might not pay off in the long run. It’s safe and expected, but it’s necessary for Disney at this time. Without a clear identity, many subscribers lost interest after the initial buzz wore off and didn’t return until the next season of The Mandalorian began. With so much riding on Disney+ these days, since films aren’t in theatres and the parks aren’t open, solidifying an identity was absolutely necessary. With a baseline identity, the streaming service now has a place to start and hopefully will have an easier time evolving as trends and interests shift.