The Disney+ story in Middle East & North Africa
The Streaming Lab - MENA #006
Hey 👋 - Yann here.
This is the 6th issue of The Streaming Lab - MENA
Each Saturday, I analyse 1 topic to better understand the OTT market in Middle East & North Africa.
Enjoy the show.
In todays’ issue, I’m reviewing Disney+ streaming service in Middle East & North Africa from 4 different angles: content, platform, localisation and performance.
The content behind the brands
Disney+ or Disney+ Hotstar platform?
From global to local strategies
Disney+ MENA: a success to be improved
The content behind the brands
On day 1, Disney released 1,200 films, 1,000 TV Series and 100 exclusive Originals. But the power of Disney+ doesn’t come from the number of titles available. Its true power lies in the brands: Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic and Star.
To better understand the content behind the brands, I’m giving you below a sneak peek into Disney+ MENA content lineup. And as a bonus: 6 videos clips scrolling through each content hubs.
Disney is the content corner where you can find all the classics: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Bambi, Mary Poppins, Aladdin, The little Mermaid, The Lady and the Tramp, The Beauty and the Beast, The Sleeping Beauty, Alice in Wonderland and much more.
You will also have access to more recent animated titles and live-action adaptations: Encanto, Raya The Last Dragon, Zootopia, Moana, Frozen, The Beauty & The Beast, Cruella or The Lion-King.
And that’s not all: this is where you can watch series and original movies from Disney channels, Disney shorts and Disney Nature.
Most of Pixar new releases are available on Disney+: Turning Red (2022), Luca (2021), Soul (2020), Onward (2020) and Toy Story 4 (2019).
The large catalog of library titles, shorts and mini-series will help end-users discover full Pixar universes: Toy Story, Cars, Monsters, Up, Incredibles, Nemo or Soul.
Pixar just released a behind-the-scenes documentary about the evolution of Buzz Lightyear from Toy story to Lightyear. A good example on how streaming can complement cinema with premium bonus content.
Disney+ is the home of Marvel content: you will find the majority of Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films - “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is already available - and a selection of TV Series and some animated shows as well.
The carousels are designed by MCU phases and in “Timeline Order”. Marvel fans can now re-discover their favorite movies in the right timeline:
Some Marvel live-action TV shows that are available in the region: Agent Carter, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Runaways, Inhumans, WandaVision, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, Loki, Hawkeye and the new releases Moon Knight and Ms. Marvel.
All Marvel series that were previously available on Netflix moved recently to Disney+: Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and The Defenders.
Disney+ offers every Star Wars movies from the original trilogy to the Rise of Skywalker. The anthology movies Rogue One and Solo are also available.
In addition to the movies, Disney+ includes exclusive Star Wars series: The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett and the new release: Obi-Wan Kenoby.
Animated series, shorts and specials have always been an important piece of Star Wars universe: Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebel and Bad Batch connect the movies and the shows all together.
My latest discovery - Vision - is a collection of 10 animated short films celebrating Star Wars through the lens of the world’s best anime creators.
Did you know Star Wars created a TV Series called “Ewoks” in 1985?
If you are looking for something to watch on Disney+ that is not Marvel or Star Wars-related, the streaming service also offers an impressive catalog of National Geographic series that are both entertaining and educational.
I can see 5 main categories:
Inspirational people: The World according to Jeff Goldblum, Maradona Confidential, Becoming Cousteau, Free Solo, Gordon Ramsey: Uncharted
Nature & Animals: Welcome to Earth, Wild Cats of India, Wild Uganda, Big Sur, Wild Congo, Wild Chile
History: Buried Secrets of WWII, Lost Treasures of Egypt, Lost City of Machu Pichu
Space: Cosmos: Possible Worlds, Expedition Mars, Mission to the Sun, One Strange Rock
Action: Ultimate Supercar, Ice Road Rescue, Supercar Megabuild, Ultimate Airport Dubai
I’m sure you’ve heard about about Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic. But what about ST⭐️R?
STAR features television programs produced by ABC Signature, 20th Television, 20th Television Animation, FX Productions, as well films from the 20th Century Studios, 20th Century Animation, Searchlight Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, and Hollywood Pictures libraries.
Critically acclaimed movies and timeless classics: Avatar, Titanic, Black Swan, Pearl Harbor, Pretty Woman, Dead Poets Society, Die Hard, Home Alone
Comedies and musicals: Deadpool, The Watch, Kingsman, Night at the Museum, West Side Story, The Greatest Showman, Moulin Rouge
Premium series: The Walking Dead, Lost, The X Files, Glee, Sons of Anarchy, Bones, Homeland
Adult Animation: The Simpsons, Family Guys, American Dad, Futurama
Disney plans to produce more Korean, Japanese and other Asian content under STAR in the next few years. If they decide to produce local content from Middle East & North Africa, they will probably release them under the STAR brand.
Do you want to know all the content available on Disney+ MENA? Check this article from William Mullally for Esquire Middle HERE.
Disney+ or Disney+ Hotstar platform?
It looks like subscribers in Middle East & North Africa will now have a variant version of the Disney+ Hotstar App, which subscribers in India and South-East Asia also have.
In the US and Europe, Disney+ uses another platform formerly known as BAMTech Media, now under Disney Streaming Services.
The two platforms have a different user interface, a different login system and different features (and a different performance?).
But let’s come back to Disney+ MENA version and its main specs:
Maximum of 7 user profiles
4 simultaneous streams
Mobile devices, web browsers, and smart TVs
If I had to list the features that are missing compared to the other Disney+ platform, I would say: the “Group Watch” and the “Kids specific User Interface”.
Regarding the performance, it’s too early to say but your feedback is more than welcome in the comments below ↓
From Global to Local
Two months ago, I listed on a linkedIn post 7 point on how to localize an international SVOD service in Middle East . Let’s use it to see if Disney+ ticks all the boxes:
✅ Know your target audience
Localisation starts by understanding what your audience is watching and their preferred language.
→ Disney+ MENA launched with all the content available in English and most of it with subtitles in Arabic. The latest titles like Disney’s Encanto and Pixar’s Turning Red were also dubbed into Modern Standard Arabic and Egyptian Arabic. The objective is to have all series on Disney+ MENA available in Arabic.
✅ Understand the economic challenges behind each countries
Match your subscription cost with the purchasing power.
→ Disney+ offers a different pricing in North Africa, Levant, Egypt and Gulf:
❌ Increase your reach, quickly
Sign partnerships with regional Telecom operators to accelerate your distribution strategy.
→ I don’t see any partnerships between Disney+ and Etisalat UAE, Ooredoo Qatar or STC yet.
✅ Upgrade your platform
Design your OTT platform for an Arabic audience.
→ Disney+ is already available in English and Arabic with a mirror-friendly UX.
❌ License local content
License finished content from local creators or co-produce originals with production houses from the region.
→ Disney+ doesn’t offer local productions from Middle East & North Africa yet. However, 2 Marvel series can resonate in the region:
Egyptian director Mohamed Diab became the first Arab to direct a Marvel project with Moon Knight
Ms. Marvel is Marvel’s first muslim superhero to headline a comic
✅ Promote your service locally
Marketing localisation is key to reach your new audience.
→ Disney+ launched regional Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts
✅ Setup a local office
Save time with a local team managing all the steps above.
→ Disney already had an office in Dubai and decided to build a local D2C team to manage Disney+ MENA.
Disney+ MENA: a success to be improved
How can we see if Disney+ is already a success in Middle East & North Africa?
The subjective way: listen to personal feedback
Some people were thrilled by this new service, mainly because of the content and the brands available all under the same roof. Other criticised a lot the platform and its performance. But it’s always tricky to listen to personal feedback in order to evaluate a new service, so let’s try to keep an unbiased assessment.
The objective way: look at the charts
Disney+ is already the second Top Free Entertainment App in the UAE. What does it mean?
High quantity of new users added
Strong App usage: session frequency and total time spent inside the App
Increased velocity of downloads and engagements
In other words, a lot of iPhone users are downloading Disney+ in UAE and use the App regularly. It’s a first sign of success.
Let’s now have a look at the ratings. Already 297 iOS users rated Disney+ App for a total score of 2.6/5. Most of the criticisms are about performance issues. Very few about the content itself.
As a comparison, here are the ratings of other SVOD services in UAE: Amazon Prime Video (4.6), Shahid (4.4), Starzplay (4.4), OSN+ (4.4), Netflix (3) and Switch TV (1.6).
Another way to compare the main streaming services is to measure the “Interest over time” from Google Trends: the interest in a particular topic across Google search.
Disney+ has the second best interest over time, after Netflix
Disney+ is the only streaming service with a positive trend over the past month
This Interest over time is another good sign of success for Disney+ in Middle East & North Africa. But the media giant should also listen to its subscribers and understand how it could improve the ratings.
That’s all for today, 1 tip to better know Disney+ in Middle East & North Africa.
See you online next week. Until then, enjoy Moon Knight & Ms. Marvel on Disney+.
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