Update: After speaking with Communications we now understand that the Programming team have a hand in these issues as well.
This is an awkward one to write. We’ve been rampaging against these divisions for about 2 years now, including a year before we launched this site. Since launch of Disney+ we’ve identified considerable concerns about the performance of Disney+ communications teams. The individuals we’ve interacted with are awesome. Those we’ve spoken to via e-mail or who have awesomely reached out to US with information about Hulu or Disney+ are solid folks who care about their job. However, there are definitely issues in the upper ranks that reflect poorly on everyone.
Before anyone asks on what basis I have to judge, in my multiple stints of graduate school I focused on Information Science and Metadata; Social Media and Marketing; and Journalism. Thus, it shouldn’t be a shocker that my issues with Disney+ largely stem from these areas. It’s what I know. (All I know.)
We’re going to break down the problems into three primary issues: monthly content lists, Friday social media graphics, and in-app promo. There are other issues but this covers most of it.
One of the most common issues we’ve seen relate to the content lists Disney Plus Communications sends out to the press mid-month. These lists are supposed to show what is coming the following month, but usually they contain an astonishing amount of mistakes. These mistakes range from titles promoted as new that have already been streaming for months, titles promoted that do not show up, incorrect season or episodes listed for a series, no specifications as to how many episodes of a series are arriving, incorrect names for series, and even basic spelling errors.
Okay, so all of this is expected. It’s normal! But since launching our site and following other services more closely we’ve learned that it is OVERWHELMINGLY a Disney+ problem more than anywhere else. Paramount+ had an issue last year where they were quite regularly promoting titles on their lists that didn’t appear. To this day, many of last year’s no-shows are still missing (Cousins for Life, 100 Things to Do Before High School, etc). HBO Max sent out a strange list with over 100 random titles a few months back, but they sent out a correction later. Disney+ has never sent out a correction or revised list.
Ever since December (Year 3) the lists have been maddeningly unprepared. Each month, they’ve sent a list with anywhere from 30 – 80 percent of the content unlisted. Why does this matter? Think about it. Disney e-mail blasts this half-arsed list to all the major websites. They copy and paste the list and post it for the world. Everyone, whether a current or potential subscriber, sees this list, dissects it, and decides whether they want to subscribe or keep subscribing.
With the April list being the worst and most insulting list they’ve ever sent out, we now have the entire internet lamenting the service just not bothering to “do its job.” People were so angry when that list came out with zero in-season episodes batches, most brands unrepresented, 2 library titles, and a handful of Earth Day specials. The April list they sent out was a “rip-off” and “scam.”
Three days ago, Disney released their monthly tradition: the Next on Disney+ video. As usual, the video had a few changes and shakeups from the list. JUST KIDDING. This was not usual shakeup. This was an entirely different universe. The content list went from the smallest since launch to an above average quantity of titles. Scam averted.
Now think back to what we just mentioned about the press. The monthly April list has already been posted for weeks. NONE of the press sites were issued revised lists. NONE of them track this stuff as closely as we do. We went through the Google News results last night ands were horrified to see a bunch of respected sites posting or reposting their “Everything New on Disney+ in April” lists. We read them. Every single one was sharing the original, empty content list that Disney’s Communications sent to the press 2 weeks ago. NONE OF THEM reflected the massive changes made in the April 1st video.
It’s so sad reading them, too. Multiple of them made specific remarks commenting on the poor quality and effort put forth. Sure, they weren’t as blunt as us, but just take a look. All of those posts in the first 3 photos are from sites with much bigger audiences than ours. But they’re posting the old list.
Polygon says it’s “Everything” but it’s clearly not. In photos 5-7 Den of Geek says Disney+ is “taking a bit of a breather” in April which is a nice way to say, they aren’t pulling their weight. At the end, after sharing the list, they say, “And honestly: that’s kind of it.” Again, you can sense the dissatisfaction and surprise in that sentence.
In photos 8 and 9 we see the introduction to Collider‘s article. The very first sentence is “The offerings on Disney+ in April are a little slim.” You know they wanted to say more. We also shared GamesRadar’s article (photos 10-11) because it too says “everything streaming this month” before proceeding to produce an empty content list that has since been heavily revised. Not everything. Not at all.
Disney sets themselves up for this. And what’s even sadder is that the negative reactions aren’t even warranted anymore. The list is actually… pretty good. But the only way anyone knows is if they watched the video or are obsessive. UPDATE: Just as we were going to press things got worse again and Disney privated the video, calling all their content additions into question.
Why This Matters
The fact that these issues have escalated tremendously in the past 4-5 months suggests Disney is going through something and really needs to make some changes. As some people we’ve spoken to have shared, they do not trust Disney+ Communications. Did you hear that?
They do not trust Disney+ communications or marketing. That is not what Heather Hust Rivera, Senior Vice President Communications at Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution should want to hear. That’s means you’ve failed. We keep hearing similar phrasing from people. They do not believe the lists because they are unreliable. Who wants unreliable to be the descriptor for your communications team?
Another issue with this inadequate lists is that every month since launch, spare maybe 3 or 4, they end up with 2-3 and in this month FOUR separate public lists with huge differences. How can anyone decide or know what’s real?
The April 2022 Debacle
Here’s how April ended up with 4 separate official lists. First, we have the press e-mail blast content list sent mid-March. This is spread all over the internet. Then, we have the April 1st video which added tons of extra titles. The description of the YouTube video also has a list that is wildly different. This is not uncommon for the description list to not match the video. Now we’ve established that month to month there are 3 different lists people see.
Finally, there is a 4th. The Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution website quietly tweaks and updates the lists as the month goes on. This usually happens immediately after posting the list mid month prior. So while the April list sent out mid-March was empty, they quietly snuck 3 titles into the DMED list. We consider this list the “be all, end all.”
When we started writing this article on April 2nd the DMED list had not added all the “newly announced” titles from the April 1st video. Then, today, they added a few new titles, but still were missing 12 from the April 1st video.
Disney themselves don’t even know what the real list is because their Disney Streaming Twitter account tweeted out the empty content list on April 1st as “Everything coming to Disney+ this month.”
4 total public lists of content, all different. What the heck?
Update: Just as we were going to press, the story gets better. We received an e-mail from an awesome member of their Communications team (shout out Patrick) informing us that the first-ever Rated R film, Kiss of the Dragon, is NOT coming. It was a mistake that they had featured it in the April 1st video because it came from their programming team. Not only that, but the April 1st “Next on Disney+” video was made PRIVATE. So now nobody has ANY clue what’s ACTUALLY coming or when and we are left with empty lists sent to the press mid-March and a slightly better list on DMED website.
In addition to those issues we can now be disappointed and angry that Disney continues to bungle this mature content rollout for USA by… uh… literally not doing anything for 6 weeks. No Rated R films. No additional TV-MA series besides the Defenders Saga which they added on “Parental Controls Unlocking Day.”
Why This Matters Part 2
We reiterate, Disney’s paying customers cannot trust Disney+’s lists. People are hesitant to get excited about the new content in the video since that list may be one of the “wrong” ones. The ultimate truth of what arrives probably lies somewhere in between the 4 publicly available lists. Do you you see how maddening this is? Guess what? No other service out there has this level of confusion upon what’s coming each month. None. It’s unprofessional. There are serious issues with their leadership nad it seems to have gotten considerably worse since Xenia Mucha left and Michael Paull to President of Disney Streaming.
Social Media Posts
Another issue we’ve dealt with is their social media posts. Specifically, the ones they put out every Friday that show what titles were added during the week. We used to keep track, but stopped after we got to 20+ weeks in a row with a mistake. These graphics are small, usually a list of 3-10 titles per week. Very close to every week, there is a title they forget to promote, a title they promote that did not arrive, incorrect season or episodes listed, and in some weird cases (but at least 4 times) a title promoted that not only didn’t arrive, but had not even been mentioned in the content lists sent to the press. A notable recent example? Disney+ was apparently supposed to get Insania as it was listed on Friday’s “Now Streaming” graphic. Instead it appeared on Hulu.
New on Disney+ Row
A third issue we see with their marketing / communications is the “New on Disney+” row. We’ve noted at least once a month content is “quietly” added to Disney+ and never promoted as new. This issue is probably not connected to the Communications department, but it’s still related. In the most recent instance, just this past week, they added Hot Shots 1 and Hot Shots 2. Neither film was promoted ahead of time in the content list for April. Neither film appeared in the “new this week” graphic on social media, and neither film showed up in the “New on Disney+” row. Wow.
UPDATE: Now we’ve just been informed that as of today just minutes after this article went live, that those films are REMOVED. We were right again. We mentioned via Twitter on the 1st they seemed to be “accidental” adds. Because of their many mistakes there have been multiple articles written about titles coming in April that aren’t coming. They have been given praise they did not earn.
There are many articles about their “first Rated R film” that is no longer coming.
to name a few…
There are articles about Hot Shots series arriving, celebrating more mature fare.
We hope that people finally accept, understand, and identify these issues as being real. We hope that their leadership team put in place a plan for improvement. Disney is a billion-dollar company with one of the top streaming services on Earth. It’s not okay that their leadership has allowed the Communications department to become an unreliable source.
Just fix it, please. For everyone’s sake.
Drew Ryan is a film, TV, and Disney geek. He has degrees in English, Student Personnel Administration, and Library & Information Science from Lawrence University, Concordia University-Wisconsin, and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Interested in the minutia and licensing of streaming service content, he is always publishing lists, suggestions, and advocating for Disney’s missing library to be added to Disney+. Drew subscribes to Disney+, Hulu, Netflix, HBO Max, and Paramount+. You can find him waxing nostalgic over classic Disney Channel or geeking out over Marvel, CW shows, & Disney on Twitter.