Can We Stop Talking About Disney+?
When I wrote the original version of this column, for the November/December issue of Streaming Media magazine, Disney+ had yet to launch. Like a lot of folks, I couldn't wait. But my anticipation wasn't so much for the service itself, though now that it's launched, I'm loving it. The Mandalorian is a blast, the new 4K versions of the Star Wars films look terrific, and my kids are digging deep into the Disney Channel's back catalog.
No, to be honest, I was just tired of talk of the service sucking all the air out of the room. In the months leading up to the launch, not a day went by without an article, blog post, or talking-head interview on a major cable or OTT network dissecting and prognosticating. Will it be a Netflix killer? Will it appeal to enough consumers who don't have kids to make it viable? And on and on. Just before launch, a Twitter account even appeared called @NotOnDisneyPlus that enumerated, well, all the things that wouldn't be on the service when it launches. (Hint: Fans of mid-1970s Don Knotts are going to be disappointed.)
And it's still happening. A quick Google search shows that in the last 24 hours, at least a dozen articles about it have been published on major news and entertainment sites.
But there's so much else going on in the streaming industry beyond the battle for the living room that's going to play out among Disney, Apple, WarnerMedia, Netflix, Hulu, and a few others. And most of the really interesting things are happening at a level that the traditional Hollywood players have no clue yet how to deal with. As our Dom Robinson wrote in a recent column for our European-focused site, "YouTube and Facebook are changing the relationship between the niche content producers and technology vendors who can help them reach their audience. TV has been disintermediated."
Back in 2009, I wrote an Editor's Note called "Blame it on the Blockbuster," bemoaning our industry's obsession with numbers, specifically the largest number of concurrent viewers for live events. That obsession has faded a bit, but it's been replaced by an obsession with which big-name OTT service has the rights to the most popular shows. In the meantime, thousands of niche content creators are creating what they want, taking it to fans where they want to watch, and making decent money in the process. That's where things are really getting interesting, and that's where we as an industry should be focusing our attention.
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