Disney has just announced that it is to bring its own streaming service to the UK in the form of an app for Disney fans. The app will allow users to stream many of the company’s films as well as books, music and TV programmes. Notable Disney-owned franchises like Star Wars and Marvel will be absent from the apps and it is unclear whether they will be included (the app seems more aimed at kids and parents rather than general Disney fans). The move follows the launch of a similar subscription service from the BBC which has launched in the US which in itself follows the launch of apps from networks like HBO.
Such moves show clearly that TV is changing as is the way in which we consume entertainment in all formats but will such closed ecosystems exist or are they a waste of time? We take a look.
TV is changing
When Apple recently launched Apple TV CEO Tim Cook proudly stated that ‘The future of TV is Apps’ and, as we are seeing with these recent launches that he might have been on to something.
TV isn’t TV any more, not as we knew it anyway. The way the box in the corner used to dominate our lives and our schedules just doesn’t happen nowadays. With digital broadcasting as well as streaming services there is no longer a need to wait each week until your favourite show hits our screens. Okay, so there is still a degree of scheduling with networks releasing some of the biggest shows at certain times on a weekly basis but only to a degree. Now Games of Throne Fans can watch new episodes of the series from the tablets on the way to work, or in the middle of the night, or play catch up and watch three episodes (or more) in a row at a time. It is now pretty much impossible to miss your favourite show. We don’t really need to record things any more either.
The Disney case is an interesting one as they have been heavily advertising services through Sky such as with a dedicated movie channel, a new Muppets show on Sky One and several Sky tie-in ads. There is always the case for diversifying your portfolio and it seems like they are trying to ensure their content is accessible from every angle whether it be Apple TV, Chrome cast, directly via the internet or via more traditional channels.
What these individual publishers like Disney have done is noted the changing attitudes of TV viewing, or home entertainment consumption to be more accurate, and decided to give an offering that is perhaps better and more involved, certainly more brand specific than the traditional network route. For instance Disney Life as it is being called will cost £9.99 as a monthly subscription (there are no details yet as to whether this will need to be a long-term commitment) which is more expensive than Netflix for sure but cheaper than Disney TV services via Sky. And with the added bonus of books and music for parents with kids it might be a good all in one Disney entertainment solution.
And, as mentioned it means that Disney can target people who are not choosing to consume content in the traditional way.
Too many cooks
While services like Disney and the BBC are known for the quality and quantity of their output there are clearly going to be issues where such niche ecosystems do not work. Netflix may be hedging their bets by reducing the amount of movie content in order to concentrate on original content but there will come a point where people do simply just want to sit and watch a film.
We cannot see a world however where each network exclusively sells its own services therefore. There are simply too many variables and you are relying on an incredibly high strength of product coupled with an incredibly loyal customer base for them to succeed. Using Disney as an example films like Frozen and The Incredibles are great but what about Shrek or How to Train Your Dragon? When people speak about going to Disneyland in Florida they also go to Universal Studios and SeaWorld. In other words, just as in the real world there will be a need for choice and through individual apps you just won’t get that.
There may be a niche of people who like Disney or the BBC or whoever the publisher may be but there are many more who like diverse content.
In short, it is an interesting move by networks or individual production companies to show their content in this manner but we think there is still life in the old TV yet or at least in the old methods of channel flicking before settling on something to watch.
There will reach a point where there is just too much individual content and platforms like Netflix will return to what made them successful in the first place, and that is choice.
But we look forward to hearing these interesting app developments all the same.