With rumours of Obi-Wan and Han Solo joining Disney’s Disney+ streaming service, it almost seems as if the House of Mouse isn’t satisfied with their lordship over the big and, well, medium screens and are targeting the truly small screens: your mobile devices.
The commandeering the operations of Hulu (a Netflix-esque streaming service only available in the U.S.) from Comcast, effective immediately, is a sure sign that the Mouse means business.
While it can be misconstrued that Disney’s reallocation of their movies to streaming is a budget saving move, there is certainly more to it than that. At the risk of sounding melodramatic, Disney’s essentially enacting a consolidation tactic to beat their competitors on yet another platform.
With their cinematic presence, coupled with their ownership of the ABC group and Disney Channel, Disney has already built a dominating presence in theatres and television– but streaming yet belongs to no one.
Despite having the lead on providing content on a streaming platform, Hulu soon found itself being outmatched by the rapidly transitioning Netflix. With an already built audience base and motivated by the risk of becoming obsolete, Netflix’s growth was meteoric.
Despite Disney having a 30% stake in Hulu (now full operational command), the leading status of Netflix enticed Disney to fraternise with their enemy, so to speak, by committing to a multi-series deal with them. Conversely, Marvel only has developed Runaways with their own sister-company of Hulu, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Agent Carter, and Inhumans for ABC.
While Hulu was always going to be a competitor, Netflix’s UI allowed for easy market dominance, and Disney reaped the benefits from relations with both. What wasn’t foreseen was the interference of agencies like Amazon and Yahoo. Although Yahoo didn’t make much of a dent, Amazon has been a surprising contender and has been able to challenge Netflix’s market control.
Hence Disney’s departure from Netflix.
While sites (and people on FB) continue making the cancellation of Netflix programmes seem like shocking news–truth is the split has been obvious since the confirmation that Ant-Man and the Wasp would be the MCU’s last entry on the streaming platform. With the guarantee that Captain Marvel and the much anticipated (and then untitled) Avengers 4, it was only a matter of time that the Disney/Netflix partnership was coming to an end.
Disney is now playing the two-step. By removing content from Netflix, they are severely weakening the medium leader. This obviously gives them greater opportunity to beef up their own archive with in-demand movies and exclusive content.
But the true brilliance lies in their newly unveiled partnership with Hulu which not only focuses on creating content based on a slew of rather alternative characters–characters you wouldn’t expect to see headlining their own MCU entries–but also caters to the fans by featuring fan-favourite talents like Patton Oswalt, Kevin Smith, and led by the beloved Jeph Loeb.
And Hulu’s was even dropping hints of buying out Netflix’s claim on the Defenders and their associates.
By re-directing their efforts to “keeping it within the family,” Disney’s not only preventing competing streaming platform audience from accessing what is arguably some of the most popular entertainment content, they are also convincing consumers that Disney may truly be the one-stop entertainment brand.
With both Hulu and Disney+ within the grasp of their tiny white gloves, it may not be very long before a platform merger occurs, uniting the libraries of Hulu, ABC, Marvel, LucasArts, and Fox.
Maybe Warner Bros. may wanna consider a career change.