As 2021 winds down, 2022 looms and with it the 2nd and 3rd year for the “2nd generation” of streaming services: Peacock, HBO Max, Paramount+, and Disney+. Veterans Netflix, Hulu, and Prime Video remain dominant but 2022 could see big changes to Hulu and if we’re lucky the streaming landscape will get another big shakeup. We’ve devoted an entire article to predicting the next 365 days or so of Disney Streaming. This includes ESPN+, Hulu, and Disney+ (all versions).
Without further adieu, Editor-in-Chief Drew and Data Director Greg present to you their magical predictions.
1. Disney will announce select adult content coming to Disney+ USA. Mostly Marvel and Nat Geo at first.
2. Disney+ will make a library deal with another studio for the USA to add “scale.” This has already been done internationally, for example: UK and BBC / ITV series and Japan with tons of anime. I would have predicted MarVista up until the Fox purchase this week. Hasbro and WildBrain are working with Netflix, but ZDF (Find Me in Paris) and CloudCo (Holly Hobbie) seem like solid possibilities.
3. Disney will continue to anger and alienate older subscribers by barely adding any vintage or missing catalog, instead continuing to draw most content from a 400-day window. Year will end with roughly 15 “highly requested” titles total including Zorro (already streaming in Latin America, for some reason), Bear in the Big Blue House, Aladdin the Series, I’m in the Band, Penn Zero, The 7D, Muppets Wizard of Oz, and The Weekenders (remember when their official help Twitter said in November 2019 it was coming soon?).
5. Disney will finally add a Watchlist row to the homescreen, a like / dislike feature, revamped search, and other basic features that are present on other services. I rejoice and retire to an island, then return remembering the classic catalog fight isn’t over yet.
BONUS: Most of Disney’s TV channels in Eastern and Central Europe as well as Hotstar in Canada and UK will shut down. Content from Hotstar will move to the STAR brand tile on Disney+ in those two countries. Disney XD will shut down entirely globally.
1. Disney will continue to “push” the envelope on what Family Friendly looks like for their service. Knowing that a merger is inevitable between Hulu and Disney+ in 2024 (or hopefully sooner), more ABC specials to please viewers and shareholders. CMA County Christmas (2021), The Magic Maker (2021), and A Very Boy Band Holiday (2021) are all steps in the right direction.
2. Disney will continue to dive into documentaries, docuseries, and animal content. They’re cheap to make and it supports filling the quota that subscribers come to expect. The Beatles: Get Back was an excellent start. National Geographic is the documentary king. The most recent additions to the Disney+ library include Lost Tombs of the Pyramid (2021), a documentary about archeologists discovering the mysteries of ancient pharaohs, while Man Woman Dog (2021), as you guessed it, is about men, women, and dogs.
3. Music films are also cheap, but have been proven to bring in the viewers. Expect one or two more concerts featuring highly praised and idolized celebrities. Black is King (2020), folklore: the long pond studio session (2020), and Happier Than Ever: A Love Letter to Los Angeles (2021) attracted subscribers who wouldn’t have thought to subscribe before. Which celebrity will be next to get on the Disney+ train? (Editor’s note: Whoever it is, please let them be uncensored.)
4. Disney will continue to fall behind on content. Drew made a valid argument here and I’ll give my thoughts after his. “Disney will continue to anger and alienate older subscribers by barely adding any vintage or missing catalog, instead continuing to draw most content from a 400-day window. Year will end with roughly 15 “highly requested” titles total including Zorro (already streaming in Latin America, for some reason), Bear in the Big Blue House, Aladdin the Series, I’m in the Band, Penn Zero, The 7D, Muppets Wizard of Oz, and The Weekenders (remember when their official help Twitter said in November 2019 it was coming soon?).” I’m expecting a few contracts to lapse or bought out, and we’ll get maybe 3 or 4 highly requested titles. Bob Chapek stated in a recent quarterly earnings call to expect Quarter 4 to really ramp up content being released on Disney+ (I’m paraphrasing a bit), but we should see Sofia the First (2012-2018) and perhaps Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013-2020) most likely arriving in October . What else do you expect to see? Perhaps the long-desired House of Mouse series, Bear in the Big Blue House, or even one of the many missing Lego titles? Overall, I do not see significant change to the missing library holes.
5. Lastly, with Media and Production companies being eaten up daily, my prediction is that Disney+ will make a library deal with another studio for the USA to add “scale.” Drew is predicting either ZDF (Find Me in Paris) and CloudCo (Holly Hobbie), but my gut is telling me Genius Brand, which owns both Stan Lee’s name as well as content on other major networks. I’d even be fine with Disney forking over enough cash to acquire and continue the Alvin and the Chipmunks franchise currently held at Nickelodeon.
1. Comcast and Disney negotiate an early exit from their Hulu split. Hulu announces plans to reshape itself as “Licensed and Live TV only” as most analysts want. ABC / Freeform / Fox / FX content migrates to Disney+ under a 6th brand tile. See my #1 prediction for the more likely situation.
3. Disney finally fixes their first incorrect aspect ratio since The Simpsons (the only one they ever fixed).
4. The inconsistent and confusing “episode batch” strategy is finally replaced with a proper next day episodes system as DisneyNow is phased out and Disney reduces their “on-demand” presence at websites like NatGeoTV.com and ABC.com.
5. Star+ shuts down and content migrates to Disney+ Latin America and Brazil Star brand tile.
1. Comcast and Disney negotiate an early exit from their Hulu split. Hulu announces plans to reshape itself as “Licensed and Live TV only” as most analysts want. ABC / Freeform / Fox / FX content migrates to Disney+ under their respective brands with the removal of the STAR branding.
2. Disney decides that the reboot, remakes, and revival era is behind us and it’s time to think more diversely and globally to tell the next age of stories. (Editor’s note: Beautiful idea.)
3. Disney+ fixes the purpose for adding collections and content is properly promoted one month at a time. For example, we previous had Tiger Town‘s director Alan Shapiro state that his film should be streaming. We agree, and by placing it in a sports category or a directors category, viewers could discover more films they’ve never been exposed to before.
4. More legacy content is pulled from other services. For example, exploring the Peacock page recently I noticed that Disney licensed Modern Family (2009–2020), The Bernie Mac Show (2001–2006), The PJs (1999–2001), and more to Comcast which in turn bulks up the Peacock offering.
5. Disney acquires Lionsgate, Viacom, or Sony making Disney’s Direct to Consumers worth more for a consumer’s dollar.
Bonus: Can we see more drama and comedy centric titles over documentaries?