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At this point, it’s no surprise to see that Disney is heavily chasing Netflix in a war to see who will take the title of supreme streamer. With the entire company literally remodeled around streaming as its primary income stream, finding the right balance of new markets and critical traction for subscriber growth is going to be a battleground that comes to the fore this year. Disney clearly wants to hit the ground running, with an extended launch in 42 new countries this summer. Brandon Blake, entertainment attorney at Blake & Wang P.A, has more.
42 Country and 11 Territory Roll-Out
These 42 countries and 11 territories represent a massive expansion, one of which was announced just last week. Major new markets include Turkey, Poland, the United Arab Emirates, South Africa, and many more. It’s a strange blend of new countries, some of which step outside the traditional influence sphere, such as Jordan, Kosovo, and Estonia. Vatican City is also included, which is a touch of a stretch as a high-contributing country.
Likewise, the 11 territories included in the summertime roll-out are typically seen as small markets, including island nations like British Indian Ocean Territories, French Polynesia, French Southern Territories, and Sint Maarten.
To date, we know little more than the geographical locations. Prices, precise launch dates, and subscription plans are not yet revealed.
Part of a Large Expansion
Disney+ debuted in Northern America and the Netherlands on Nov 19th, 2019. With the subsequent arrival of pandemic lockdowns, and the unprecedented boom in streaming that followed, it gained massive traction fast throughout these territories. Trading on childhood nostalgia and an immediately recognizable brand has worked wonders for Disney, enough for them to fully reform corporate activity around their streaming model last year.
But as the pandemic recedes, we’ve seen overall sluggish results for subscriber numbers throughout ‘popular’ anchor territories like North America and EU states. For companies to buoy up subscriber growth, expansion into new markets is going to be critical. For much of 2021, we saw Asia and Latin America become new battlegrounds for subscriber numbers.
Now, as more and more streamer growth saturates those areas, too, it’s time to look further afield. We’ve seen a lot of interest focus on Africa at present, with some strategic partnerships with local content creators underway.
Is Local Content Key?
With the massive success of Squid Games for Netflix last year, one thing has become increasingly clear. It’s not enough to simply move into territories and offer English-language programming, with localized content on the backburner.
Instead, we’re seeing subscriber growth in new territories driven by interesting, high-quality local content, often in non-English language blocks too. This is, of course, not a bad thing for the film and TV industry overall. Instead of being seen as ‘unwelcome imports’ into local creator economies, it gives streamers a chance to invest in key partnerships with local studios, telling local stories for a wider audience.
Depending on the precise metrics used, Disney + is widely seen as either the second-place or third-place competitor to Netflix’s dominance of the industry. They certainly have the budget and brand traction to put their all into these dominance moves, and we can only assume that this ambitious rollout is a key part of that strategy to assert their market dominance. We will be waiting eagerly for further details.
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