Disney’s streaming drive reaches beyond children and family fare

SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE: The Disney + logo displayed on a TV screen
SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE: The Disney + logo displayed on a TV screen

During commercial breaks in a broadcast of World Wrestling Entertainment’s SmackDown, fans were shown ads for Walt Disney’s new streaming service, Disney+.

So were Monday night football viewers and video gamers watching Twitch.

“Try to keep up,” Captain Marvel said in one ad after a series of fast-paced clips from Star Wars, The Simpsons, The Avengers and other Disney-owned hits from outside of its deep catalogue of children’s classics.

Disney’s marketing force is reaching beyond its traditional family audience to send a message that its $7-a-month (R104) subscription service Disney+ offers something for all ages.

The service debuted on Tuesday in the US, Canada and the Netherlands.

“It’s incumbent upon us to market it the right way to emphasise the fact that it’s not just for kids,” Disney executive Kevin Mayer said during a briefing at the company’s Burbank, California, headquarters.

“It’s all family friendly, but everyone can enjoy this product.”

Disney has told investors it can hook 60-million to 90-million customers within about five years as it competes for customers in a crowded-streaming market dominated by Netflix.

Signing up adults who do not have children at home is part of that plan.

Consumers may not realise that after a series of acquisitions Disney is much more than classics like Cinderella and Mary Poppins that charmed generations of families.

The company now owns the celebrated Star Wars movie franchise; Iron Man, the Hulk and dozens of other Marvel superheroes; Toy Story animation house Pixar, and nature programming channel National Geographic.

Previously released movies and TV series from all of those brands, plus 30 seasons of The Simpsons, are available on Disney+ alongside decades of Disney’s family-centric offerings.

Disney+ also offers new programming from those brands.

To raise awareness, the company is promoting Disney+ during sports and primetime TV telecasts to get in front of what Hollywood calls the four quadrants of viewers: male, female, young and old.

“We’re unmatched in quality and appeal across our four-quadrant audience spanning a variety of genres, formats and arenas, and will continue to build on that year after year,” Disney+ content and marketing  president Ricky Strauss said.

In addition to the wrestling, football and gaming contests, ads ran during the World Series and the ABC News late-night programme Nightline, and on social media networks.

Early testing in the Netherlands, attracted a “very large and diverse audience”, Mayer, who runs Disney’s direct-to-consumer and international unit, said.

Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, a series aimed at 18- to 49-year-olds, ranked as the most-watched piece of content, Mayer said. — Reuters