As early as 2007, Netflix unveiled a streaming service for movies and television, the first of its kind. Though Hulu debuted the next year, Netflix has remained the most popular streaming service of its kind for years. But this may no longer be the case.
The Walt Disney company released Disney+ in November, 2019. Disney currently owns Marvel, Pixar, Lucasfilms, Touchstone Pictures, and all Disney brands. This means one brand is in control of all media related to Star Wars, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, all Disney films, all Pixar films, and a variety of other companies or franchises. This doesn’t even include Disney’s partial stakes, such as its 80% stake in ESPN or 50% holdings in A&E, the History Channel, and Lifetime.
Disney also has a major stake in Hulu. This development was a direct result of the Disney-Fox merger, a business move that gave Disney the rights to National Geographic and 20th Century Fox.
Though Disney is in competition with other media companies, such as Comcast, the entertainment market is quickly becoming usurped by only a few large companies. With only five major movie studios left in Hollywood-Disney, Warner Bros., Paramount, Universal, and Sony- the entire entertainment industry is witnessing a major shift away from anything previously seen.
The problem with Disney owning so much of the media we consume is that it creates an oligopoly. This puts media integrity at risk, limits choices for consumers, and reduces the diversity of information available.
With Disney’s new foray into a condensed streaming catalog, this may soon be a reality. Name a tissue company other than Kleenex or a bandage brand other than Band-Aid. It sounds ridiculous, but this happens all the time. When companies dominate a market so severely, they redefine the product itself.
In 2019, the Walt Disney Company had an estimated market value of $238 billion. The next highest-earning media and entertainment company was Comcast at $192 billion. Media consolidation is no longer a distant possibility. It’s here.