Disney Plus has only been in the streaming game for a little over a year, but there are already projections that it will eventually overtake Netflix as the champion of the medium. So far, Disney Plus is mainly known for its family-friendly content and franchise headliners, but its method of content release also stands out from its competitors. For one thing, the vast majority of content new to Disney Plus is released on Fridays at midnight in the Pacific time zone in the USA…no matter what it is.
This strategy is limiting in a lot of ways that I’ll soon get into, but the one obvious advantage it brings to the service is reliability. This regular and predictable drop makes it simple for Disney Plus users to keep track of when they can expect new content to come to the service and encourages them to develop a habit of checking what’s new every Friday, likely logging in to the service itself to do so.
Overall, though I don’t think Disney should be sticking to this method of rolling out content on the service, at least not quite as strictly as it currently is. As of right now, Disney Plus isn’t releasing nearly as much content as, say, Netflix. Putting out all of its new material for the week at the same time inevitably leads to some projects overshadowing others. This would probably happen to an extent even if they were released at different times, but the current format gives the “smaller” projects even less of a chance to break out.
Small projects on Disney Plus won’t be able to break out
I like the idea of the coveted Friday spot being reserved for “headliner programming”, meaning series like The Mandalorian and WandaVision or films originally-intended for theatrical releases that have been moved to the service and other content going up on different days. Even just ensuring Disney+ originals (other than maybe shorts) don’t all come out on the same day and allowing content that’s new to the streaming service but has previously been released elsewhere to debut alongside originals would be an improvement.
With the current release model in effect, Disney Plus appears to have a carefully planned-out release schedule to avoid overlap between major new releases…sort of. This certainly seems to be the case when it comes to the Star Wars and Marvel Studios series, with the original plan for releasing shows from these franchises in 2020 appearing to be The Falcon and the Winter Soldier releasing episodes from late summer until early fall, immediately followed by Season 2 of The Mandalorian throughout the fall and then WandaVision starting up at the end of the year.
Obviously, this plan had to be altered due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it appears that a similar approach is being taken in the first part of 2021. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is now set to start on March 19, just two weeks after the finale of WandaVision on March 5. Loki is scheduled to begin in May, likely within a month of TF&TWS’s finale, followed by What If…? in the summer.
Disney doesn’t want any of their new shows to overlap one another
It’s clear that the schedule has been planned out to avoid any overlap between these series, though it is still unknown whether Star Wars shows will overlap with Marvel ones going forward. (The Bad Batch and The Book of Boba Fett are slated for 2021, but there’s no way these shows would be able to follow the same weekly episode release model as The Mandalorian and avoid overlap with any of the Marvel ones.)
However, as of now there is already an upcoming Friday with two major pieces of content scheduled to be released on Disney Plus. On March 5, WandaVision will drop its final episode and Walt Disney Studios Animation feature Raya and the Last Dragon will be released simultaneously in movie theatres and under the streaming service’s Premier Access purchase option. This seems like a misstep, especially with no real headlining content scheduled for the following Friday, March 12. (There will likely be a couple of new Marvel Legends episodes out that day in order to help promote The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, but that’s the kind of shorter, more minor content that doesn’t warrant top billing for the week.)
Disney Plus should have a lot of breathing room for new content
Disney Plus should have plenty of “breathing room” to ensure all of its content gets plenty of promotion and time in the spotlight given that there really isn’t all that much of it in terms of original material, but limiting the streaming service’s content rollout to Fridays-only is already proving to be a little constricting. (Even hypothetically taking out all the movie debuts that were supposed to be in theatres only, the sheer amount of Star Wars and Marvel shows produced specifically for the service mean the current model likely won’t be able to avoid overlap between series forever.)
It’s time Disney branch out with release dates on their streaming service and allow the Disney Plus debuts of content old and new to be enjoyed steadily, rather than dropping it all at once every Friday and leaving nothing new for the rest of the week.
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