Disney+ : It all adds up

Curator's Note

Disney+ = Disney + Pixar + Marvel + Star Wars + National Geographic

Each branded studio complements each other, aligned around four quadrant, family entertainment but diversified from the Disney and Pixar focused homegrown Disney Life service trialed in the UK (2016). Disney+ is the culmination of the Bob Iger franchise era acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, Fox and BamTech.

Iger, Disney CEO since 2005, describes it as a “treasure trove of long-lasting valuable content…The Disney+ platform is being built on that foundation, one that no other content or technology company can rival” (1) Embodying his broader focus “to create great content and to distribute it in innovative ways” (ibid), that combines the three strategies during the Iger era: Creativity, technology and global expansion.

These are now encapsulated in the new corporate strategy “to deliver the highest quality branded entertainment franchises on all relevant platforms, employing the most effective technology in service of our customers around the world.” (2)

This continues Disney’s longstanding focus on strategies of synergy, globalization, franchising as well as exploiting new technology and revenue streams, that underpinned the company’s growth into a global media conglomerate (3). Disney continues renewing, extending and exploiting its Intellectual Property, yet it has also pivoted into a direct-to-consumer company, integrating its content streaming and content warehousing, its franchises and branded studios, into its proprietary and exclusive global platform (an expansive Walled Garden, keeping customers within the Disney conglomerate ecosystem).

The platform builds on the proven and scalable Bamtech streamlined interface, piloted with ESPN+ following Disney’s acquisition of a majority stake in the Major League Baseball technology company, “to leverage the strength of our great brands.” (Iger, 4)


And Disney+ is all about mutual expansion, from the exclusivised flagship The Mandalorian series, to “original movies, TV shows, short-form content and other Disney-branded exclusives” (4), to providing new opportunities to expand the Star Wars Universe, and for the Marvel Cinematic Universe  “it is growing it, it is expanding it”.(5)

Disney+ transposes their franchise and brand focus, as a reliable means of “holding onto viewers, of ensuring that they watched in Disney’s preferred (i.e.. fully monetized [and now fully data driven and integrated] settings.” (6)


1. ‘Disney Investor Day webcast’ (11 April 2019) https://thewaltdisneycompany.com/the-walt-disney-companys-2019-investor-...

2. David Collis and Ashley Hartman (2018) ‘Reawakening the Magic: Bob Iger and the Walt Disney Company’, Harvard Business Review, 6 December: 5.

3. See my ‘Disneyizing Home Entertainment Distribution’ in Wroot, Jonathan & Andy Willis (2017) (eds.) DVD, Blu-ray and Beyond: Navigating Formats and Platforms within Media Consumption, Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan.

4. ‘The Walt Disney Company to Acquire Majority Ownership of BAMTech’ (2017) https://thewaltdisneycompany.com/walt-disney-company-acquire-majority-ow... August.

5. ‘Marvel Studios Disney+ Panel Reveal Highlights - D23 2019’ (2019) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TcrOGAcA-48

6. Kyra Hunting and Jonathan Gray, ‘Disney Junior: Imagining Industrial Intertextuality’ in Johnson, Derek (2018) From Networks to Netflix, Oxford and New York: Routledge: 197.


Wow...all this makes my head swim...I don;t even know where to begin  to find content. And content I want, not content they recommend or give me. Honestly I miss the days of walking into a Blockbuster and browsing and renting films. And It is getting harder and harder to actually buy DVD or Blu Ray anyore to own...this to me is a significant alteration of ownership and collectors building a library of content they curate for future use...!

One thing I wonder is how Disney+ will handle 20th Century Fox studio content in the future. On the one hand, Disney wants to tease its opponents, and that includes cultural branding and cache. On the other, Disney would be foolish to not tap into the tremendous feature films it acquired. A few have already made it onto Disney+ that fit the family-friendly brand, such as The Sound of Music  (1965). My guess is that anything that cannot fit the PG-13 limit on Disney plus will be dumped on Hulu, or locked in the vault entirely. 

Thanks for your comment, Jacqueline.

This might be one aspect where Disney+ is distinguished in different territories – in the US there is a clear plan to include FX and other Fox properties within Hulu, but that is specific to the American market.

A range of live action family comedies, as well as Avatar and Blue Sky animation like the Ice Age franchise are already incorporated on Disney+, and evidence Disney’s continued strategy of appropriating the Intellectual Property of their acquired or partner companies under the Disney brand (and I’m sure that was another factor in the Disney+ platform name). So Sound of Music like the Walden Media Narnia series (those co-produced with Disney but not yet The Voyage of the Dawn Treader distributed by Fox) are on.


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