A new press release contains a potentially intriguing roadmap for The Walt Disney Company’s future.
Today, Disney announced a reorganization within the company – mostly boring stuff about who reports to whom. But amid all of the financial buzzwords and internal mumbo jumbo about new entertainment groups within the corporate hierarchy, one line stuck out: “Under the new structure, the Company’s three content groups will be responsible and accountable for producing and delivering content for theatrical, linear and streaming, with the primary focus being the Company’s streaming services.”
This is the first time Disney has used such strong language in a press release to address its focus on streaming. But what might this shift really mean?
When Disney+ debuted, it almost immediately surpassed the company’s early expectations of app downloads and subscriptions. From that moment, it’s clear they’ve been trying to figure out ways to put more of a focus on streaming content. And that desire has only been heightened amid an ongoing pandemic that has severely crippled the theatrical exhibition industry.
I wonder how exhibitors are going to react to the news that Disney is now focusing more on streaming than theatrical projects. This announcement isn’t Disney officially bailing out on theaters, but it does make us wonder if we’ll get fewer theatrical releases overall – especially now that major tentpole movie franchises are slowly transitioning into the streaming world with things like the Star Wars and Marvel shows.
Will We See More Disney+ TV Shows?
With less of a focus on theatrical. Does this mean that we’ll see the first ongoing Pixar streaming series made for broad audiences? (There’s some kids’ content on Disney+ already. But this seems to open the door to reach a wider swath of people.)
It’s been a given for a while that we’d be seeing increases in major franchise properties on the Disney+ platform. But after this announcement, the company is moving full steam ahead with streaming in a big way. Does this mean that they believe they’ll be making more money from streaming than they would theatrically? That may be the case in the short term during the COVID-era, but what about once our national nightmare is over? Will we get another announcement saying that Disney is shifting its primary focus back to theatrical again? Could we get that type of announcement even sooner. If the National Association of Theatre Owners complains about it enough in the press? Time will tell.
Disney will hold a virtual event on December 10 for its investors, and intends to reveal more information about its strategies then, so hopefully we get some clarity then about what all of this means.