This week saw the launch of Disney+, a new streaming service exclusively for Disney content. The practice of keeping content exclusive is damaging and reminds us of Disney’s desire as an industry giant to take advantage of consumers and monopolize the market.
By creating Disney+, Disney is taking advantage of consumers’ childhood nostalgia. Disney’s animated movies — featuring touching stories which are made with cutting-edge technology and set in stunning faraway lands — have inspired many an artist, actor, writer and dreamer. Disney’s movies have told us that that hard-working, good people will be successful — hell, the Disney Parks’ slogan is “Where Dreams Come True.” But Disney+ just exploits the success of these films — and the wide range of emotions that they bring — for more money.
People care about the stories Disney tells. Disney’s movies and shows were defining factors in many of our childhoods. We were raised with its child stars as our role models and its animated movies as our windows into adventure and fantasy. I, and many other students like me, turn to these movies for comfort after a tough week; they reassure me that things will be okay and that happy endings exist. Entertainment brings joy to our lives, and privatizing it forces those who love these shows and movies to pay more than they already do to access them.
Disney is determined to continue profiting off our emotional attachment to its work. When Disney’s media is made exclusive, we lose access to an important source of artistic inspiration and personal enjoyment.
All content owned by Disney will only be available on Disney+, which forces consumers to purchase a subscription if they want to consume any media that Disney owns — which encompasses a lot. Disney+ currently provides exclusive access to content from Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic and the Simpsons. Disney had already announced it will not renew its 2016 agreement with Netflix, and all Disney-owned content will be gone from the platform by 2021. Many smaller Disney movies were quietly removed from Netflix on Nov. 1, but some of these titles are not available on Disney+ launch.
Disney may not have removed all its content immediately from other services, but the rest of the content will eventually make its way over. Marketing has featured some content that will be released “straight to Disney+,” which gives exclusive access to those who subscribe to the service. Theaters may not be able to distribute new content when it’s released, which reduces the chance for people to see creative content without purchasing a monthly subscription. Disney joined a list of other services to condemn password sharing as piracy too. These blatant profit-first moves will deprive many people of the simple joy of accessible entertainment simply because they can’t pay every month.
Disney’s desire to control the consumer market is horrifying. It’s currently offering the Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ bundle for $12.99 per month — but Disney already owns all three services. For those who don’t know that Disney owns all three, the bundle may seem like a good deal. But all the money is going back to one parent company. The profit Disney will make from all the services and companies it owns is astronomical, and it benefits further as long as consumers are unaware of its sprawling influence over the entire media market.
Disney has a stranglehold on the entertainment business. It’s almost impossible for people to not want the content on Disney+. You would be hard-pressed to find someone who isn’t a fan of any actors or movies that Disney controls. Disney owns Marvel, which means it also owns “Avengers: Endgame,” which over 100 million people saw in theaters. Disney has so much control over popular opinion that it’s able to easily take advantage of its position for more profit.
Disney+ is only another impudent cash cow. Hundreds of Disney-owned shows and movies are only available on Disney+, and public consumption of media content will soon become dependent on the few companies that control the entire market. A company that takes people’s childhood nostalgia and turns it into money should not have this much control. Disney+ may have been a profitable move, but it does more harm than any justifiable good.
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Email Alexandra Chan at [email protected]