Disney+ channels prove streaming will replace TV - not cinemas

Lorenzo Bagnato

18 April 2024 - 19:02

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Disney+ will introduce channels similar to traditional cable TVs. Here’s how the entertainment sector will change after the streaming wars.

Disney+ channels prove streaming will replace TV - not cinemas

Disney will reportedly implement cable TV-like channels on its flagship streaming service Disney+. The news broke on Monday as reported by The Information and later bounced by specialized outlets.

Channels will follow the FAST (Free Advertising Streaming Television) model, similar to Paramount’s Pluto TV. Disney already operates a FAST platform, the Fox-controlled Tubi.

FAST services transmit content all day long and do not always require a subscription. They are exactly like cable TV - interrupting programs with ads - just based on the internet instead.

Netflix, the world’s largest streaming service, reportedly considered implementing FAST channels too but later abandoned the idea. Amazon Prime Video operates FAST channels on its Freevee site, which is separated from the main platform.

Disney+ channels will run for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Each channel will focus on one proprietary Disney content, from the Simpsons to Star Wars to Marvel series. Viewers will reportedly need to have a Disney+ subscription to access channels.

CEO Bob Iger, who recently won a board proxy fight against investor Nelson Peltz, promised shareholders to make Disney+ profitable by year’s end. Since its inception in 2019, Disney+ reported more than $11 billion in net losses, with worldwide subscribers declining in 2023 and early 2024.

The streaming war’s aftermath

Starting with the COVID-19 pandemic, most Hollywood giants founded their streaming services, challenging Netflix’s monopoly-like grip on the market. Five years later, the streaming wars left a barren landscape in the entertainment sector.

Netflix emerged victorious. It remains the only profitable streaming service, with growing subscribers and a stable future. However, the streaming wars forced Netflix to implement changes toward advertisement too, introducing a new ad-based subscription tier.

Disney tried to dislodge Netflix, failing miserably but remaining alive. After trying to abandon the theatrical window, both Disney and Netflix (as well as most Hollywood majors) realized cinema theaters are not going anywhere.

Instead, their conflict proved streaming will slowly but surely replace cable (and pay) TVs. While theater attendance is growing (though still below pre-COVID levels), traditional TV viewership is declining globally.

Those who lost the streaming war (like Disney, Paramount, and Warner Bros) will likely replace cable TV, supporting their services with ad revenues. Those who won the streaming war (like Netflix) will continue on their path to replace pay TVs. And make a lot more money.

As long as services like Disney+ are unprofitable, this remains total speculation, but years of changes are constantly pointed in this direction. TV will be the sacrificial lamb. If not, nobody knows what will happen to the entertainment sector.


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