Opinion | Disney+ bolsters tremendous TV buzz 

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Photo Courtesy of IMDb

Paul Bettany and Elizabeth Olsen star in Disney’s “WandaVision” television series. Columnist Mickey supports Disney+’s utilization of a weekly release model to elongate conversations.”

By Micky Horstman, Columnist

Growing up alongside streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime, my generation has seen successful program launches and massive streaming failures. We’re spoiled in our ability to access any information from the cellphones in our pockets. 

Relishing an “old school” style with Disney+, however, has fostered dialogue between my friends and me that mirrors our parents’ conversations about NBC Thursday Night’s “Friends,” “Seinfeld” and “ER.” Disney’s weekly release schedule has revitalized the classic TV model and has created upbeat energy, excitement and conversation between each episode that’s unparalleled to any other streaming platform. 

“WandaVision” recently concluded its jaw-dropping run as the most-watched television show in the world according to Parrot Analytics. Audience demand ranked the show 59.4% higher than any show on the market; less than 1% of Action and Adventure shows receive this kind of buzz. 

Joining “WandaVision” in this elite category is Disney+’s first original series: Star Wars’s “The Mandalorian.” Recently, “The Mandalorian” concluded its spectacular second season in December 2020. “The Mandalorian,” also, was the first Disney+ original to shatter TV streaming records, while captivating audiences and generating huge social media attention. 

It’s no surprise that both “WandaVison” and “The Mandalorian” are ranked in the 99th percentile for all action and adventure titles in the United States. 

Disney has had a complicated relationship with streaming services in the past. Originally, Marvel had deals with Netflix, Hulu and ABC to release exclusive content. However, after acquiring Lucasfilm and 21st Century Fox, Disney needed a central streaming location. 

In anticipation of launching Disney+, Marvel terminated most of their popular Netflix, ABC and Hulu programs.

Instead of consolidating all of their streaming material onto Hulu, Disney opted to maintain separate streaming services, using Hulu to house their mature shows or those for which they acquired the rights. Meanwhile, Disney+ would be the hub for family-friendly movies and TV shows, dividing the platform into five main categories: Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic. 

What pleasantly surprised me was the amount of content that was created as a result of the weekly release.  My friends and I have gotten into heated debates regarding plot points and even mystery guest stars. I’ve found myself cackling over reaction memes on Twitter and scrolling through fan theories on Tik Tok — I simply cannot get enough. 

After the seventh episode of “WandaVision,” a concluding song peaked at number one on iTunes’ soundtrack chart. Without the excitement that’s been building every week since “WandaVision” debuted, none of this content would have been created. 

The hype isn’t exclusive to “WandaVision,” nor is it exclusively online. “Baby Yoda” broke the internet more times than I can count. Likewise, these shows have flooded the merchandising market, inspiring everything from action figures to Halloween costumes. 

Netflix originals generate conversation for a weekend, but Disney has ensured their content stays profitable and trending for months. If “WandaVision” and “The Mandalorian” are indicators for the success of these projects, Disney+ has created a model that will take over the streaming market. 

According to Digital TV Research, Disney+ will surpass Netflix in new monthly subscribers by 2025, making them the fastest-growing streaming platform to date.   

Disney’s weekly release model also stimulates a conversation on social justice, the coronavirus and free speech. 

An unforeseen consequence of elongating “The Mandalorian” was actress Gina Carano gaining a significant following on social media. Carano received serious backlash for sharing insensitive social media viewpoints that likened American conservatives to Holocaust victims. 

This was not her first controversial stance, previously Carano received backlash for tweets suggesting users be “anti-mask” during the Covid-19 pandemic, and repeatedly tweeted about the 2020 Presidential Election being “fraudulent.” 

These past actions and the trending #FireGinaCarano resulted in Disney terminating her contract. Had Disney released all the episodes of “The Mandalorian” in one-weekend, Carano wouldn’t have gained this social media fame, and her comments would likely have gone unnoticed. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many traditional media outlets have been altered or outright canceled. Streaming became the way to fill the void for many people in this trying time, but the weekly release model is the superior way to digest television. 

Instead of flooding audiences with binge-able culture, Disney decided to prolong their content and encourage worthwhile discussion, attention and patience for their consumers. Disney has excited their audience and generated enormous amounts of social media attention, all by maintaining the classic television model. Tune in Friday mornings to catch the latest episodes on Disney+ and balance with the social media buzz surrounding them. 

 

Micky is a sophomore in LAS.

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