Launching a streaming service isn’t the kind of thing a major movie studio can pull off overnight, and the shift to digital was seen coming years ago. What industry analysts DIDN’T know was how these studios were going to handle producing content for theatrical movies, network TV, cable TV, AND streaming at the same time.
We’re beginning to get our answer to that…they won’t. Hollywood is rapidly shifting their resources from failing mediums to rising ones, and the COVID pandemic has only accelerated that trend. Cable is out — streaming is in. Shows that would have premiered on cable this year made the move to whatever streaming channel the parent studio is putting all its muscle behind. CN’s planned premieres for 2020, The Fungies and Tig ‘N Seek, premiered on HBO Max instead. FX is moving most of its cable content to appear on Hulu first. And then there’s Disney.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek announced today a restructuring of the company with a bigger focus on streaming content, such as Disney+. Up to this point, Disney has run multiple distribution departments all at the same time, but as of now they’re shoving it all into one single department called Media and Entertainment Distribution. This department will consist of three focused sub-departments: Studios, General Entertainment and Sports.
As the names suggest, Studios will handle movie content, Sports will handle ESPN and related ventures, and General Entertainment will take charge of everything else — mainly stuff on TV. The consolidation is meant to make it easier to direct content into services like Disney+.
And as anyone who cancelled their Disney+ subscription out of boredom knows, the service NEEDS more fresh content and a wider variety of it. Most of the new material has targeted the traditional Disney Channel audience. Chapek will need to rope in the adults in the room as well if he wants to go after Netflix, HBO Max and the others.
“Given the incredible success of Disney+ and our plans to accelerate our direct-to-consumer business, we are strategically positioning our Company to more effectively support our growth strategy and increase shareholder value,” Chapek said. “Managing content creation distinct from distribution will allow us to be more effective and nimble in making the content consumers want most, delivered in the way they prefer to consume it.”
Fortunately for him, Disney+ content with wider appeal is on the way. The Mandalorian’s second season premieres on the 30th of this month, and Marvel’s WandaVision will finally be ready by December.