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Could there come a time when properties like Star Wars and Marvel are available exclusively on a Disney streaming service? Well, the possibility is not all that preposterous, at least if Disney’s CEO, Bob Iger has anything to say about it. (Which, he presumably does.) In a recent interview, the head Mouseketeer discussed the company’s current streaming services, when he begins to hint at the idea that the exploits from the pages of Marvel Comics and from "A Galaxy Far, Far Away" might be heading to a similar business model.
On a conference call on Tuesday, Iger brought up Disney’s new strategies for tackling an ever fluctuating media market, Bloomberg reports. The company currently has its finger in a number of streaming pies, notably, its properties like ESPN and is enjoying an agreement with Dish Network’s experimental broadband-only Sling TV service. For Iger, it does seem to be the way the industry wind is shifting and he even mentions that there may come a point when Disney’s recently acquired crown jewels in Marvel and Star Wars could make its way to something similar with services for which its consumers can subscribe. According to Iger:
It is definitely an opportunity, not just for ESPN, but for other Disney brands. We think we have that opportunity with a Disney branded service. We may have an opportunity to bring out a Marvel type product and possibly even Star Wars.
However, exactly when said "opportunity" will come knocking remains to be seen, as Iger is quick to qualify his statement by saying that the company is still "mindful of the value of the expanded basic bundle." In other words, don’t go cancelling your cable or satellite services just yet. The idea of Marvel and Star Wars making its way to a Netflix-type model is still very much just cloud talk.
Certainly, though, the hugeness of those brands, especially if they were to combine into a single streaming service, would be monolithic to the model. However, it could potentially change the context of how the fans consume the product. – Possibly in a problematic way. We’ve seen the more successful streaming services like Netflix carry an invaluable measure of convenience, allowing consumers to take in a broad array of product whenever and wherever they go. However, the idea of an all-Marvel, all-Star Wars or maybe even a combo service of the two, would be a huge deal to hardcore fans, but would also be especially specific. It may be a purely anecdotal theory, but the average fans seem to consume mega-films of the Marvel and Star Wars variety in spurts; meaning they see the films and then they move on until it’s time for another.
If there’s any validity to that concept, then it’s difficult to see what demographic such a streaming service would be courting. Adult fans? They’ve seen the movies, have them on Blu-ray 3D and are probably not generally interested in the animated features and other side programs. Kids? Their parents probably already bought them the specific movies they like and whether or not there would enough original content to justify a parent paying monthly fees is a huge question. Just look how the WWE struggled for over a year to get its streaming service, WWE Network up to a 1 million subscribers. It was a rough transition which caused the wrestling company to hemorrhage money.
The streaming subscription service model is definitely here to stay. However, people probably are not quite willing to shift their complete media consumption habits to an intricately micromanaged ala carte formula. – At least when it comes to specific properties. However, it’s clear that Iger’s comments were made to demonstrate that Disney is simply preparing for the day when they would be willing.