Disney preps marketing blitz as it takes on Netflix in streaming

Disney is to treat the launch of Disney+ as its “most important” in 15 years, with a “comprehensive” marketing plan that aims to take awareness above 90%.

Disney+ streaming serviceDisney is readying a marketing blitz as it prepares to launch Disney+, its video streaming service that aims to take on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

Speaking on an investor call last night (6 August), Disney CEO Bob Iger said the company would be treating the launch as its most important in 15 years, with a marketing plan to match. That will include both “digital and analogue” activity, as well as “significant” support on Disney’s own platforms.

“It is going to be treated as the most important product that the company has launched, certainly during my tenure in the job, which is quite a long time,” said Iger who became CEO in 2005.

He added: “Nothing is more important to us than getting this right.”

The company will also make use of its other consumer touchpoints to promote the service. That means promoting the service to people who own its co-branded credit card, have stayed at one of its hotels, or are members of its D23 fan club.

He added: “The opportunities are tremendous to market this.”

The campaign is expected to launch later in August, initially in the US but quickly rolling out to select international markets that will also be among the first to offer access to Disney+. D23 members will be the first people to be offered subscriptions.

Disney+ is going to be treated as the most important product that the company has launched.

Bob Iger, Disney

The aim is to quickly bring awareness of the service above 90% so it can compete with Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. According to YouGov Brand Index, awareness of Amazon Prime in the UK is 80.9%, while for Netflix it is 94.1%.

Disney will need to invest significantly if it wants to scale Disney+ “relatively quickly” as Iger suggested. Netflix invest $2.37bn (£1.95bn) in marketing in 2018, mostly to promote its original content. By comparison, Disney invested around $2.8bn (£2.3bn) last year across its whole business, according to Statista.

Video streaming is rapidly increasing in popularity in the UK. The latest figures from Ofcom show that 47% of UK households are now signed up to a streaming platform, up from 39% a year ago.

Many households are signed up to more than one service, with the total number of UK streaming subscriptions increasing to 19.1 million, up from 15.6 million in 2018.

The amount of time spent watching streaming services is also rising, increasing by seven minutes last year. The average UK adult now watches these services for 26 minutes a day, compared to 34 minutes on YouTube and 3 hours and 12 minutes for traditional TV.

Disney is one of a slew of companies hoping to tap into this growing demand. ITV and the BBC are set to launch their own streaming service, Britbox, later this year that will offer access to British programming, while Channel 4 is testing an ad-free paid-for version of its on-demand service All4.

BritBox: Is there room for a new streaming brand in the UK?

In the US, meanwhile, both Apple and mobile operator AT&T through WarnerMedia are set to launch their own streaming services.

Disney hopes its strong suite of brands, including Marvel, Pixar and Star Wars, will help attract consumers. On launch, it will offer 300 films, with that number increasing to 400 by the end of its first year. There will also be Disney+ originals, including The Mandalorian, a Star Wars-themed series.

“If you compare us to Netflix, we’re going to have far fewer products than they do, but we’re relying on the strength of our brands and the fervour that fans of those brands have for the product that we make under those brand umbrellas,” said Iger.

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