Perhaps not a shockwave but a definite tremor was felt in the media industry this week when Disney announced it will by-pass the traditional broadcasters, aggregators and content distributors by launching its own direct to consumer video service.
DisneyLife, to launch in the UK next month, will join services from HBO, CBS, NBC, Showtime, Nickelodeon and WWE which allows viewers to watch shows on demand, and in some cases live broadcasts, over the Internet. While not the first to do so, it is very significant to see a large content owner like Disney decide to engage directly with consumers.
For me, there are two big takeaways from this development. First, content owners with a strong enough brand are realising that they don’t need a middleman to reach their audiences. This will be causing alarm bells to ring for the traditional broadcasters and distributors and paves the way for other brands to follow suit.
Secondly, the move is showing that brands such as Disney are seeing the value in having a direct connection to the end user, enabling them to rapidly react to the different ways their consumers want products. Certainly DisneyLife has been developed with the future in mind, with a goal of launching in France, Spain, Italy and Germany, and the platform has the potential to be rolled out in the US.
Looking ahead, Disney’s chief executive Bob Iger sits on the board of Apple, and says he shares Tim Cook’s sentiment that apps are the future and TV channels are losing relevance. It’s interesting to see a brand such as Disney, with a rich back catalogue, taking control of their content and realising they have everything at their disposal to reach old and new audiences, in the way their audiences wants to consume content.
Furthermore, these companies are also realising they don’t need to start from scratch to build the infrastructure to do so when they can partner with a connectivity provider with an ecosystem of hosted, cloud based media services to deliver uninterrupted, high quality content across the globe. This approach delivers increased speed to market, lower risk for new services, little or no initial investment and flexible OPEX commercial options.
It will be even more interesting to see who follows suit and where Disney takes this next. Either way, traditional broadcasters, or content aggregators, will be worried and likely will adapt to handle this new competitive threat.
How do you think DisneyLife will affect the broadcasting industry?