What people watch on the Disney+ streaming service could follow them into the theme parks sometime in the near future.
Disney is looking to blend its streaming and theme park business in new ways, combining viewer and visitor data to make Disney+ a “platform for consumer engagement” for the company and “a next-gen storytelling platform” for users, CEO Bob Chapek said Wednesday night at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia + Technology Conference.
“Disney+ will be conscious of what you do in a park,” he said. “… What you watch on Disney+ then will have an impact on your guest experience at the park, and I think that’s going to put us in a tremendous position of competitive advantage.”
Chapek did not say when specifically the company could start the merging process. Disney’s streaming strategy includes a goal to fully acquire Hulu from Comcast in 2024 and incorporate it with Disney+.
His comments suggest Disney would use the combined data in targeted advertising. Some theme park fans on social media speculated Disney could also use Disney+ viewer data to evaluate what movies and shows are most popular with visitors and bring that content into the theme parks.
Dennis Speigel, CEO of International Theme Park Services, said Disney would “absolutely” mine the data for trends it could bring to its resorts.
“It’s not Big Brother now anymore — It’s Big Mickey,” he said. “… What it provides, I think, is a win-win situation for both the theme park guests and for the Disney company because our ability through the algorithms, etc., to understand the customer just keeps getting better.”
Combining the data could help guests plan their visit and let Disney know what customers want, he said. Some users may have privacy concerns, but many companies are headed in the same direction with data, and Disney might offer an opt-out feature, Speigel said.
“The tip of the iceberg has only been scratched, and as this technology and programming evolves, Disney will find more ways to use it to both their advantage and the consumer’s,” he said.
Chapek revealed details of the Disney+ plans in response to a question about the company’s intent to launch a membership service.
The Wall Street Journal reported in August that Disney is exploring a paid program, similar to Amazon Prime, that would offer incentives for consumers to spend on Disney’s streaming services, theme park vacations and merchandise. Those plans are still reportedly early in discussions, but they align with Disney’s efforts to become a cohesive “lifestyle brand,” as Chapek said Wednesday.
“If we can have a universal guest experience, recognize that a person who spent seven days in the park, 24 hours a day, and we know all that information about them is the exact same person who watches XYZ on Disney+ …. we can now customize and personalize the experience way beyond anything we’ve ever been able to do before ― bringing now the two pieces of The Walt Disney Company into one, for one common guest experience,” Chapek said.
At the D23 fan expo last weekend, Chapek also discussed Disney+’s potential to virtually bring viewers into the theme parks from home as “a third dimension of the canvas,” according to Deadline.
Disney’s most recent earnings report showed the company had “significant subscriber growth” across its Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ streaming services, with Disney+ gaining 14.4 million subscribers in the company’s third quarter alone. Disney+ had over 152 million total paid subscribers worldwide in early July.
Company executives expect Disney+ to begin generating profits in 2024. Disney announced price hikes for its streaming services last month, and starting in December an ad-free subscription to the service will cost $3 more per month.
email@example.com and @katievrice on Twitter