Disney+ Joins Streaming War, Officially Launches

(Image credit: Disney+)

The Walt Disney Co. said it officially launched its new streaming service Disney+ early Tuesday morning.

At $6.99 a month Disney+ is priced to open big and scale quickly, according to Disney CEO Bob Iger. Iger has turned Disney inside out to move it from being in the traditional TV business to being a leader in streaming.

The traditional TV business has been shrinking because of cord cutting and new digital competition. Streaming, led by growth of Netflix, appears to be the media industry’s shiny new object.

After Disney+ has a chance to satisfy consumers, AT&T will roll out its subscription streaming service HBO Max. And after that, Comcast’s NBCUniversal will launch Peacock.

Disney execs will be closely watching to see how many orders they get, how many their vaunted BAMTech backbone can handle and, eventually, what they’re watching.

The company is spending $1 billion on original programming for Disney+ and that will increase to $1.5 billion. That’s on top of spending for programming on ABC, Disney Channel, Freeform, National Geographic, Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars that will be available on Disney+ after its linear engagement.

Disney has told investors it expects to have 60 million to 90 million subscribers by 2024 and that Disney+ won’t break event till then.

Disney is also losing money on its other streaming products, ESPN+, which now has 3.5 million subscribers, but won’t break even till 2023 and Hulu, with 28.5 million subscribers. Hulu is losing millions also and Disney doesn’t expect it to be profitable till 2024.

Nonetheless, Disney is all-in on streaming.

“The launch of Disney+ is a historic moment for our company that marks a new era of innovation and creativity,” said Iger. “Disney+ provides an exceptional entertainment experience, showcasing our library of beloved movies, TV series and exclusive original content from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic.”

Disney+ offers subscribers nearly 500 films and 7,500 TV episodes at launch.

With the launch Disney+ is premiering a number original series, including The Mandalorian, the epic first-ever live-action Star Wars series; Lady and the Tramp, a live-action re-telling of the 1955 animated classic; Noelle, an original holiday comedy film starring Anna Kendrick; High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, the all-new scripted series set at the real-life East High featured in the blockbuster film franchise; The World According to Jeff Goldblum docu-series from National Geographic; Marvel’s Hero Project, which celebrates extraordinary kids making a difference in their communities; Encore!, executive produced by Kristen Bell; The Imagineering Story 6-part documentary from Emmy and Academy Award-nominated director Leslie Iwerks; short-form series Pixar IRL and Disney Family Sundays; and animated short film collections SparkShorts and Forky Asks A Question from Pixar Animation Studios.

Viewers will be able to subscribe to Disney+ directly online or through several platforms including Amazon Fire, Apple, Google, LG Smart TVs, Microsoft, Samsung Smart TVs, Sony and Roku.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.