Buy My Merch: Disney+ hones in on merchandise amid the streaming war

May 4, 2020

2 min read

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What's going on here?

Disney+, the hotly anticipated streaming platform, has now launched in around a dozen countries to a great reception. Within the first 3 months of Disney+’s launch in November 2019, 28.6m people had signed up. Comparatively, relatively new streaming platform Britbox hit 1m subscribers in North America after 2 years.

What does this mean?

Whilst the streaming wars have often circulated around the amount of paying customers and range of content offered, Disney+ may be able to carve its own niche in the space with its control on merchandise and company image. With Disney’s famous protective nature over their IP, this is not a necessarily surprising move.

Following the online success of “Baby Yoda”, the Disney store currently has a total of 16 items for sale relating to “Baby Yoda” or “The Child”. Disney’s ability to produce merchandise for their exclusive shows and movies provides a different but strong angle for the streaming service. By having everyday items that link back to the streaming service, Disney+ is able to capitalise on current successes and acquire new subscribers.

What's the big picture effect?

As the tv shows and movies on Disney+ are exclusive to that streaming platform, Disney is able to give new or renewed prominence to certain shows, characters or franchises through the selling of merchandise. Disney is creating new shows to put on the platform, alongside old favourites. For example, in 2015, it was estimated that the Star Wars franchise had brought in $12bn from merchandise (mainly toys) since 1977. This is compared to $4bn from box offices.

The streaming wars have become even more diluted recently, with the addition of Disney+ and BritBox. It is therefore key for the platforms to differentiate themselves, and not solely rely on the income from paying subscriptions when the customer has a lot of choice.

In this way, Disney has steadily acquired franchises such as Marvel and Star Wars. Disney holding the exclusive rights to in-demand movie franchises allows them to bring something different to the “streaming wars” and attract their diehard fans. 

Evidently, Disney wishes to expand its brand and legacy beyond their shows and movies. Therefore, the move towards expanding their merchandise to correspond with new Disney+ shows may seem like a logical conclusion. It will be interesting to see whether other streaming platforms will attempt to broaden their revenue streams.

Report written by Harina Chandhok

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