What Might Disney Announce at Disney Investor Day 2020: Disney Plus, Hulu, ESPN Plus, and Star
Disney’s Investor Day is officially upon us. The company will host the event this afternoon, beginning at 4:30 p.m. ET.
While most company investor presentations are not typically geared for fans and viewers, the company is still expected to divulge information about content and other streaming related topics that will be helpful in the coming year.
With the coronavirus causing so much disruption this year, it wouldn’t be surprising to learn that the company will be implementing new changes to adjust with the times, especially where film is concerned.
Below is a list of eight topics that Disney could reveal at their event this afternoon.
1. Integrating Hulu and ESPN+ Content into Disney+
Over the past year, there has been much speculation on how Disney can better integrate the experience of their three streaming services in a single place. Right now, even if you sign-up for the Disney Bundle, you have to access the content from three different apps.
In October, activist investor Dan Loeb suggested that Disney could improve the experience by “collapsing all of Disney’s DTC services into the Disney+ application.” He continued, “Given that Disney+’s subscriber base is already meaningfully larger than any of your other DTC services, we believe Disney would benefit from a single customer acquisition vehicle led by Disney+.”
This wouldn’t only help improve those who currently have the Disney Bundle, but could help Disney accelerate adoption of the other services by showcasing their content in a single app.
2. Adding More Content For Adults to Disney+
Despite all of the success of Disney+, outside of “The Mandalorian” and “The Simpsons”, it doesn’t have a ton of content specifically targeting adults. For families it is a no brainer to sign-up, but as the next phase in Disney streaming takes place – the streaming service will have to focus on giving a reason for those without kids to keep the service all-year long.
They already have originals on the horizon that should help including “WandaVision”, which debuts in January. But, with delays to “Falcon and the Winter Solider” – and an unknown timeline to series like “She-Hulk” and the “Obi-Wan Series” – they may consider adding more in the meantime.
The easiest way to do that is to add content from the Fox library of TV shows and movies like “Kingsman” and “The New Mutants”. At Disney Investor Day in 2019, they had originally announced that “Malcolm in The Middle” was coming to Disney+, but it has yet to arrive. They could add other Disney-owned properties like “Modern Family” and “The Good Doctor”
If they do integrate this into the platform, it will be a big shift away from only having content for families. But, there has been speculation that they could hide some of this content behind a parental controls PIN.
3. The Future of Disney+ Premier Access
It’s been a solid three months since the company released Mulan as an added $30 offering via Disney+ Premier Access, yet, they have remained tight-lipped about how the film actually performed on the platform. The most we’ve gotten from them was when Disney CFO Christine McCarthy said execs were “very pleased with what [they] saw over the four-day weekend,” during the Citi Global Technology Conference in September.
However, during the last earnings call, CEO Bob Chapek said that they “have something here with a Premier Access strategy” and plan to reveal more at Investor Day.
Hopefully, the company will share more details on exactly how “Mulan” performed, and whether that will bring more movies currently on hold to “Premier Access.”
4. Plans for the 2021 Film Slate
As with many other media companies, Disney has had to adjust to the fact that movie theaters will be operating at less than capacity, as the coronavirus pandemic is not letting up. Mulan, Hamilton and Soul are all films the company had planned for the theater but wound up on Disney+, so what happens in 2021?
With WarnerMedia’s decision to premiere their entire 2021 film slate on HBO Max and in theaters on the same day, everyone will be looking to see what Disney has to say about their own 2021 slate. Already rumors have been circulating, speculating that Pinocchio, Peter Pan and Wendy and Cruella will be premiering on Disney+ and not in theaters as previously expected.
But, what will happen to their bigger budget movies like “Black Widow”, “Jungle Cruise”, and Marvel’s “Eternals”? Will Disney follow in Warner’s footsteps and include them at no extra cost on Disney+, bring them to “Premier Access”, or hold them until theaters fully re-open?
5. Release Dates for Upcoming Movies & Original Series
Disney has several Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm productions in the works and the company is expected to give an update on their release dates.
Expected Marvel films include Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Eternals, Thor: Love and Thunder, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Black Panther II, as well as the Captain Marvel sequel. We are also waiting on an update on exactly when “Falcon and the Winter Solider”, “She-Hulk”, “Moonknight”, and “Ms. Marvel” may come to Disney.
On the Lucasfilm side, the streamer has “Cassian Andor” and a Mandalorian spinoff, with Obi-Wan and season three of The Mandalorian starting production in the next few weeks.
There are a number of other Disney+ originals in the pipeline like “Lizzy McGuire”, “Home Alone”, “Turner & Hooch”, and “The Mighty Ducks” - the question remains on exactly when they will arrive.
6. The Future of ESPN and What That Means For ESPN+
Earlier this week, news came out that Disney execs considered “moving some of ESPN’s popular sports programming to its streaming service as early as 2022, after the expiry of licensing contracts requiring games to be broadcast on ESPN’s cable channel,” sources told the Financial Times.
Though live sports have been compromised this year and will probably follow atypical schedules through at least half of 2021, Disney may still announce new plans for the cable network. With ESPN+ attached to the other two services and the cable network lagging in viewership, the company is most likely looking to give the sports brand a boost – which could include a larger NFL package.
7. International Plans and Rollout of Star Streaming Service
In August, Disney announced that they would launch a new international streaming service under their Star brand. The service will offer library content from the company’s wide-ranging brands such as ABC Studios, FOX Television, FX, Freeform, 20th Century Studios and Searchlight.
The news was a surprise for some, which thought they would use Hulu for content targeted for adults.
“In terms of the general entertainment offering internationally, we want to mirror our successful Disney+ strategy by using our Disney+ technical platform, bringing in content we already own and distributing it under a successful international brand that we also already own, which is, of course, Star,” CEO Bob Chapek explained during the company’s Q3 2020 earnings call.
“Hulu aggregates third party content, where this will not. This will be rooted in our own content … and Hulu has no brand recognition outside of the U.S. nor does Hulu have any content that has been licensed to it internationally. This gives us the ability to market under the Disney umbrella and have synergies with our existing platform.”
We should have a better idea how they plan to roll-out the service and exactly where they will launch first at Disney Investor Day 2020.
8. Price Hikes and New Premium Plans
Could Disney raise the price of Disney+? In August, Disney increased the price of the monthly plan of ESPN+ from $4.99 to $5.99, while keeping the annual plan at just $50. Could Disney+ follow in its footsteps?
It would be hard for them to do so right now, with the company still trying to add more original content. But, with Netflix increasing the price of their Standard Plan to $14 and HBO Max at $15 – they are significantly less expensive than the other two.
Depending on Disney’s plans to bring new-release movies and Hulu content to Disney+, there is also the potential for them to add a higher-priced tier. Hypothetically, imagine “Disney+ Premier” which at a price like $19.99 a month, could include new hit movies, as well as Disney+ and Hulu (Ad-Free) content.
That could be more of a direct competitor to Netflix, than Disney+ already is.
We’ll be covering the event on The Streamable and our Twitter account, so make sure you follow for real-time updates on everything that happens at Disney Investor Day.