Disney is reportedly considering a plan to create a membership program similar to Amazon Prime, and analysts say the move could give the entertainment giant a competitive edge.
"It's a great move for Disney because of its large fan base and wide set of offerings — theme parks, Disney+, cruises, etc.," said Mary Pilecki, Forrester vice president and principal analyst. She added that the benefits could get "moderate Disney fans" to expand their engagement with the brand from a "once every four years theme park trip" to a slew of products and services, from attending a Disney show on Broadway to signing up for their streaming service.
The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that the company is exploring a membership program — known internally as "Disney Prime" — that would give customers who spend a lot of money at the House of Mouse discounts on streaming services, theme parks, and other products. Disney confirmed in a statement that a membership program was on the table.
"A membership program is just one of the exciting ideas that is being explored as we consider ways to marry the physical and digital worlds to create the next generation of great Disney storytelling and experiences," said Kristina Schake, senior executive vice president and chief communications officer at Disney.
The company also said that it plans to use technology to tailor its offerings to customers.
"Technology is giving us new ways to customize and personalize the consumer experience so that we are delivering entertainment, experiences, and products that are most relevant to each of our guests," said Schake."Disney is more than a brand to our consumers. It's a lifestyle, and we are exploring how to better serve them across our many touchpoints."
Gaining an Edge in Streaming
This potential merging of Disney's physical and digital presence comes as Disney finds itself battling for market share with other streaming services. Disney+ reached 152.1 million subscribers as of the third quarter of 2022, making it the second most popular streaming platform in the world.
It is the third most popular platform for original programming, according to Parrot Analytics. Despite having a smaller slate of exclusive shows and movies than its competitors, it's the home for valuable franchises such as Marvel, Pixar, and Star Wars. The service recently announced that it will increase the cost of its no-ads subscription from $3 to $11 a month, and will add an ad-supported version for $8 a month starting on December 8.
"Not only can Disney understand its customer better through an analysis of their behaviors, but it can easily reach out to ask for zero-party data within the program, which will help them personalize more effectively and make its offers more relevant," Pilecki of Forrester said.
Disney already has a fan club called D23, which references the year the company was founded in 1923. Membership in the club, which starts at $100 a year, offers access to special events, collectors sets, discounts, and early access to the D23 expo, Disney's premier fan event.
This new membership appears more targeted toward casual fans.
"A program like the one Disney proposes will work best for expanding the purchase behaviors of existing Disney fans of all levels — whether they are currently only taking advantage of one or two of its offerings or all-in on Disney because the program highlights the benefits of doing more with Disney," Pilecki said. "As long as Disney doesn't expect significant acquisition of new customers — those that currently don't buy any Disney offerings — it can be successful if priced right."