Disney+ may be the new kid on the block when it comes to streaming services, but just like if the kid had a rich parent who gave them everything they wanted, Disney+ was able to dip into its parent company Disney's deep pockets to feature the breakout hit stage musical Hamilton on its platform, to the envy of all other streaming services.
According to data sets provided by 7Park Data, 37% of its panel of viewers in the US watched Hamilton in July, which is close to three times the number that watched the second widest-reaching title of that month, Netflix's true-crime docuseries Unsolved Mysteries (14%).
Hamilton is a song-and-rap stage musical reimagining of the story of the American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, created by Broadway star Lin-Manuel Miranda, with a mixed-race casting of the leads. The stage show has been playing on and off-Broadway ever since its debut in 2015, and has been nominated for and won a record number of Tony awards. In 2016, RadicalMedia filmed the stage performances for the show, and the rights to the video were subsequently sold to Walt Disney Studios for the reported price of $75 million.
Although the Hamilton recording was originally intended to debut in theaters, the global lockdown forced Disney to change its strategy. It debuted on Disney+ on July 3rd instead, and immediately started trending worldwide as fans pored over the musical, created fan interpretations of the music and storylines, and rocketed Hamilton to the top of the streaming charts.
The actual stats regarding the performance of Disney+ programming is done by third-party services since Disney does not disclose those numbers. But CEO Bob Chapek had previously told employees that Hamilton had brought in a lot of new subscribers for the platform since its debut.
While the numbers brought in by Lin-Manuel Miranda's brainchild are impressive, Disney+ is still lagging behind Netflix when it comes to streaming. The latter has the advantage of being one of the first movers in the business, and has amassed a massive collection of streaming content that has become the go-to entertainment option for many during the lockdown.
Still, Disney+ is fast shaping up to be seen as a serious rival to Netflix, thanks to the global, decades-long following for the Disney brand. Several upcoming big-budget projects that will debut on Disney+ in the coming months will further tip the scales, starting with Mulan in September and season 2 of The Mandalorian in October.
Of course, resting on the laurels of past success would be the wrong move for both Netflix and Disney+ at this point, as the two streaming giants face the same immediate and urgent problem that is giving sleepless nights to every studio exec in Hollywood: how to create new content in the present reality of social distancing and the global threat of infection. That is the problem that will need to be overcome, or at the very least, circumvented in a satisfactory manner, if streaming platforms and studios alike are to stay in business. This news comes direct from Variety.