There has been a lot of talk about the upcoming Disney streaming service. Well now it is time for some more…
What will be on the service? Will there be things that we want to see? While we are still a bit away from hearing what the slate of programming will be, perhaps soccer can give us a glimpse of what we may expect.
Soccer? Let me explain. While the Disney streaming service is still a year away, ESPN+ is already here. And since they fall under the same umbrella, it may be logical to look at the ESPN+ strategy to draw conclusions about the Disney service. And if there is one thing ESPN+ has, it is plenty of soccer.
ESPN+ features Major League Soccer, Italian A, Australia’s Hyundai A-League, Westfield W-League, the Chinese Super League, the Chinese Super League, Dutch Eredivisie, UEFA Nations League, English Football League, and the United Soccer League. ESPN+ also features ESPN FC and MLS Rewind studio shows. In short, there is a whole lot of soccer. Why?
Soccer fans are notoriously passionate. And while all of these soccer leagues may not draw a national audience to get a spot on a television network, but soccer fans wont have any qualms paying under $5 a month to get all of this coverage of the “beautiful game.” Much like HBO, Netflix, or the original Disney Channel, the business is not contingent on ratings, but instead getting folks to subscribe. Let’s take a look at a competing service as an example. CBS All Access saw its numbers climb when they debuted their new Star Trek series. Even after Star Trek was not able to get a large enough audience to deserve a spot on the CW, it was able to get fans to sign up for a service.
You can already get a glimpse of Disney executing this strategy. Star Wars: The Clone Wars saw it’s same-day ratings shrink and it was decided it was time for the next chapter in Star Wars animation. But by bringing it back, Disney is showing two things. 1) They believe that The Clone Wars has a passionate fanbase that will subscribe to see more episodes. 2) The service will have among its many offerings, fan-serving programs. This could mean some great content would be on the service. For example, The Muppets might have been a “bubble” show on ABC where decisions are made based on ratings, but when it is viewed as part of a suite of programming to get folks to subscribe, they might have better luck. Want more “Vault Disney” and behind-the-scenes programming? It might not be a good fit for ABC,
There was some talk about how Disney is going for a “large tent” service that caters to more than fans. This is undoubtedly true. Disney will want every household to subscribe, but some mistook that to mean that the service won’t cater to fans. I don’t believe that will be true. If ESPN+ is going to super-serve soccer fans, the future looks bright for us Disney fans.