You know what you’re getting with Disney+ before you subscribe because (assuming you could get to the end of the seemingly endless Twitter thread), they told you as much. And have even added to that list since the initial announcement.
But logging into Disney+ for the first time is required to begin to comprehend the true depth of entertainment properties at your disposal. There are potentially years of video content on there already, and nearly all of it comes from known intellectual property. With known fan bases, that turn into known audiences (we’ve discussed as much in this space before).
For what we haven’t seen yet, there are clear tie-ins to the larger Disney family of properties. Everything — much like Marvel’s example — is in effect, a commercial for another Disney property. Everything encourages you to watch and consume more.
While Disney’s always had the omnichannel marketing game down pat, Marvel’s interconnectivity of video content properties has seemingly created the model for what Disney+ offers viewers here.
Though no new and exclusive Marvel shows appear just yet, you get the short “documentary” Expanding the Universe, which is basically just a 12-minute commercial for what’s to come, along with what’s already available. You know this when you hit play, yet it’s still an effective vehicle for convincing you why you’ve subscribed (something likely aimed at the 7-day trial users early on). When you’re done, most of the MCU’s movies await you, save four titles still streaming on Netflix through 2019 and the films owned by other studios — The Incredible Hulk and both Tom Holland Spider-Man movies.
Other new titles on Disney+ link back to the rest of the expansive catalog as well. The Mandalorian is a gateway to the rest of the Star Wars-related universe. Marvel’s Hero Project obviously ties to Marvel. High School Musical: The Musical: The Series points you toward its source material (High School Musical), along with a slew of other Disney Channel favorites. Forky Asks a Question gets you watching other Pixar projects. Encore, hosted by Kristen Bell, almost certainly has you switching over to Frozen and other Disney animated works.
The list goes on, but the through-line is clear: Disney doesn’t necessarily need an algorithm to make recommendations here — though they do just the same. Instead, the content Disney+ is streaming and how it’s grouped is its own recommendation machine. This is something that no other player in the streaming game can really tap into. Even short of a shared universe, the ability to simply make content appear like it somehow links to one another without seeming (outwardly) ham-handed is an accomplishment in and of itself.
Can anyone else replicate this? It seems tough to imagine without the franchising and branding machine of Disney behind it all for decades. That doesn’t necessarily guarantee success for the company in the supposed “streaming wars,” but it may give them a pretty significant head start toward winning over audiences for incredibly important watch time.