Like many people born in Generation Z, I remember watching “Kim Possible” reruns through blurry eyes at 2 a.m. and fuming when my parents wouldn’t let me watch Hannah Montana because “she’s disrespectful to her dad.” Nevertheless, when Disney+ launched on Nov. 12, I was skeptical about if I was willing to pay $6.99 to relive the past. It wasn’t long after I decided against it that I received a text from my 18-year-old brother with his username and password followed by the words, “You’re welcome.”
Since he made the decision for me, I had no choice but to investigate the new streaming platform. A sensory overload bombarded me in every section from movies and television shows I had forgotten about. As Josh Spiegel stated in an article for The Washington Post, “The most powerful force in American culture right now is nostalgia, and no one can sell viewers more nostalgia than Disney.”
After watching a couple of shows, I realized that the content just doesn’t relate to where I am in life now. Nostalgia wasn’t enough for me to keep engaging with Disney+. However, it seems that it’s enough for others my age — at least for the time being. A study by Tim Wulf in the Journal of Media Psychology explains that undergraduates experience media-induced nostalgia by reengaging with beloved media from their past. Additionally, doing so increased their enjoyment. This is how Disney is getting away with not having to produce new content, but nostalgia for past media can only take them so far.
Instead of creating new content, Disney continues to remake its classics that have continuously done well in the box office, like “Aladdin” and “The Lion King.” This shows that the Disney company is more motivated by profit than it is by creating new content. This sentiment was echoed by columnist Charlie Jones in an article for The Breeze, saying, “A company of Disney’s size is going to try to minimize their risks by greenlighting films they know will make a profit, so one can expect the output of Hollywood’s near future to be composed of sequels, spin-offs and remakes, since it’ll be harder for creative newcomers to break into the film industry with Disney acting as the artistic gatekeeper to the silver screen.”
Another factor that’ll lead to Disney+ fading is the removal of its content from all other streaming services. Peter Fader, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, explained in an article for Penn Today that the decision to pull content from other streaming services doesn’t mean that everyone will subscribe to the new service.
“You want to have your content out there as broadly as possible,” Fader explained to Penn Today. “By pulling it away, you’re devaluing the content by saying, ‘You know, if you want to watch ‘The Office,’ you’re going to have to come watch it over here,’ and thinking everyone is going to go running from Netflix.”
Customers aren’t going to subscribe to certain streaming services just because they have their favorite show. I predict what might happen is that customers will weigh the pros and cons of each service and make sacrifices depending on what’s more important to them. For me, and I suspect most of the public, it's the streaming services that are going to provide long-term satisfaction that’ll earn a subscription. Disney+ is too niche of a market to offer customers long-term satisfaction.
Disney was smart to release its streaming service around the holiday season. No doubt, families with a subscription will gather in the living room on Christmas Eve and stream “Home Alone.” After the holiday season, though, I predict Disney+ subscriptions and the streaming service’s overall popularity will decrease. With only 11 forms of original content— many that still play off the back catalog like “High School Musical the Series” and “Pixar in Real Life,” Disney has nothing truly new to give, and after finishing all two seasons of “Lizzie McGuire”, viewers will inevitably go back to Netflix to binge the flood of original content that is released monthly.
Allison Baxter is a junior media arts & design and communication studies double major. Contact Allison at firstname.lastname@example.org.