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Disney Plus Chief Kevin Mayer: Surprised By Immediate Demand, Expects to Avoid Piracy With a Great Product

Jason Gurwin

Given the early technical issues, it’s no surprise that Disney+ admits that they underestimated the sheer number of early subscribers. At the Recode Media Conference, Disney+ Chief Kevin Mayer said the company was “very surprised by the magnitude of the immediate demand.” He continued that the 10 million sign-ups were even more than the company anticipated.

But, Mayer said the downtime wasn’t an “Amazon issue”, but “the way we architecture a piece of the app.” He says the company already has fixes in place. While he less sure that Netflix can match Disney on content, he feels that Disney can match Netflix’s technical prowess within “a couple of years.”

When asked about the winner and losers of the streaming wars, he said “not everyone is going to succeed” and that it will shake out in the next five years. Ultimately, he expects “three to six streaming services” will survive.

A non-obvious competitor to Disney+ is piracy, which Mayer thinks “the best defense is a good offense.” Mayer continued, “If you offer consumers a high-quality experience, a fair price, and well-time availability of content, people will pay for it. The best way to avoid piracy is to offer a great product.”

One the key drivers to the early success of Disney+, is that he feels that they made it clear that it’s “really not just for kids.” By creating original programming targeted at adults, it supplements the large library of content that may be more appealing to the entire family.

But with the long lead time for creating original content, Disney felt it was important to give adults even more value. Mayer says this is why Disney decided to bundle the service with Hulu (and ESPN+). Since “Disney+ is an adult-entry point service”, the bundle offers more appeal to adults, without dramatically increasing the overall price to consumers.

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