Disney At Your Fingertips
Issue: Winter 2019

Disney At Your Fingertips

When I was young, it was certainly something special to watch a movie like Cinderella on television - often a holiday treat. This was when there were only three major networks airing content (gasp). So, to be able to watch a classic like that, right from your own living room… well, it was truly magical. Then, when my son was young, I purchased a library of Disney classics on VHS, and he was thrilled to be able to watch Mulan, Hercules, 101 Dalmatians, and a host of other animated feature films any time he wanted - and boy, was that a lot! But did he realize what a revolution this was?

Then came DVDs and Blu-ray discs, transforming living rooms into theaters, and giving home audiences something extra: behind-the-scenes interviews and footage. Today, the home releases are available just a few short months after the theatrical release, so there is very little wait time. And of course, you can always watch select releases on cable and satellite, on-demand or as a listing - if they happen to be available as either option.  

The viewing model has been revolutionized further with live streaming services. Of course, Netflix is the big one, offering a host of original and popular content that you can watch anytime and anywhere. Apple TV, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Now, and others, even CBS All Access, are part of the live streaming option. For my son and his friends, cable TV and satellite are as appealing as a rotary-dial telephone. When I offered to buy cable for his apartment at school a few years ago, he said, "No thanks, we'd never watch it. We use Netflix."

Just recently, another revolution occurred that rocked the entertainment industry. The Walt Disney Company began offering Disney+, a subscription video on-demand streaming service. What's so unique about this offering is that consumers now have the entire world of Disney right at their fingertips, putting all of Disney's treasured content in one easy-to-access location. This also includes content from Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm (Star Wars), and National Geographic.

Disney+ has removed all of its classics from the vault and has made them available here, including early movies like Snow White, to contemporary blockbusters like the Avengers series. What about those original Mickey Mouse shorts that started it all? Yup, they're there. In fact, the service offers 500 movies and 7,500 television episodes. So, in addition to some of the former hits, there is a plethora of brand-new content, including The Mandalorian, which is expanding the Star Wars universe in a unique way. There's also a new reboot of Lizzy McGuire and so much more.

Some have called this a "once-in-a-generation shift in entertainment." Bob Iger, CEO of The Walk Disney Company, has coined it "a game changer," and placed it, on a scale of 1 to 10, at a 15.

Just prior to the service's debut, estimates put the number of predicted subscribers at 75 million to 90 million in just five years. Ambitious? Not really, considering on the first day of launch, 10 million people signed up. (Netflix, which debuted around 20 years ago, has a reported 158 million subscribers.)

With millions of people turning to streaming services for their entertainment, it comes as no surprise to learn that last year, these subscriptions surpassed the number of cable subscriptions for the first time. And why not? People are busy and do not want to be tied to their televisions. They want their entertainment when they want it, whether it's on a TV screen, computer screen, or mobile phone. As for me? Old habits are hard to break. I still watch DirecTV but supplement it with Netflix, and, starting this weekend, Disney+.