By Carlo Versano
It isn't exactly a Qwikster moment, but when Disney unveiled the name of its forthcoming OTT streaming service on Thursday, it didn't exactly blow anyone's hair back. And that's fine by Disney chief Bob Iger.
"It's not surprising that Disney would use their Disney brand name," said BTIG media analyst Rich Greenfield. Disney is regularly considered among the most valuable brands in the world ー why wouldn't they want the iconic name and logo to feature prominently in a new service? Even if the plus suffix hasn't exactly touted a track record of success. (See: Google Plus.)
Disney ($DIS) is clearly taking a cautious approach to its new direct-to-consumer product that it hopes to build into a Netflix ($NFLX) rival. The initial rollout is domestic in scope, and the company won't change its legacy film-release model in an attempt to flood the zone with new subscribers ("Frozen 2" will still have a theatrical run long before it shows up on Disney+).
As always for a new media venture, content will be king. Greenfield said Disney is going to bank on its goodwill with kids and families at first. However, he said it will need to produce high-quality new offerings that leverage its blue-chip properties like Marvel and Star Wars and "make you want to subscribe" in order to get enough traction to even nip at the heels of Netflix ー which is on track to boast 170 million worldwide subscribers by the time Disney+ launches.
So even if Disney yanks its current slate of films and shows from Netflix, as expected, the original programming is what will matter. When was the last time you heard someone say they subscribed to Netflix for its library of old films? The streaming giant has inoculated itself from that scenario by spending heavily on its own original content, assuming the time would come when its rivals would go it alone. Now that day has come, Netflix is investing $8 billion in new content a year that it can lean on.
"Reed Hastings is probably smiling so big this morning," Greenfield said.
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