WandaVision Ushers In Streaming’s Franchise-Dominated Future

WandaVision Ushers In Streaming’s Franchise-Dominated Future

By  |  January 15, 2021  |  Uncategorized  |  No Comments

A month before Disney+ was officially unveiled, a message for Marvel fans trickled out: Get ready to pay if you want to understand what’s happening in future movies.

That edict, delivered by Marvel chief creative officer Kevin Feige in an oft-cited Bloomberg interview, is finally coming to fruition.

WandaVision, an exploration of the relationship between Wanda Maximoff (played by Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) through the lens of classic sitcoms, arrives on Disney+ today. It marks Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first steps into television and the first of many companywide efforts to cement Disney+ as a must-have for fans.

Because of Covid-19 delays, it’s the first new live-action Marvel offering since 2019’s Spider-Man: Far From Home. WandaVision’s rollout also offers a piece of original content for Marvel fans to gobble up and provides a look at the new reality of streaming. Streamers are looking to build out their most valuable stories and characters to battle their competition and keep fans invested.

“If I know there is going to be another release of a series, either related or directly connected to a franchise I am very interested in, I will probably be less likely to cancel that service,” vice chairman and U.S. technology, media and telecom leader at Deloitte Kevin Westcott said. “I see it as a churn prevention technique.”

At Disney, this technique is evident when examining its original plans for the first half of the year. Two additional Marvel original series are readying their releases in coming months: The Falcon and the Winter Solider are slated to arrive on March 19, and Loki is planned for a May debut. Those series give Marvel fans a reason to stick around for the first half of the year.

And it doesn’t stop there. At an investor day in December, newly appointed media and entertainment division chairman Kareem Daniel said the company plans to release an astounding 10 Star Wars series and 10 Marvel series over the next several years. The finale of The Mandalorian’s second season came with a teaser for another upcoming spinoff series titled The Book of Boba Fett, set to premiere at the end of 2021.

“We have the ability exclusively [to] explore those stories with those characters, with those actors, and when those stories are over and those seasons, they can migrate back to the big screen and then back to Disney+,” former content curation and programming head Ricky Strauss said ahead of Disney+’s debut.

Disney’s strategy is already paying off. The service has more than 86 million subscribers, a stunning figure for a service just over a year old. Its first-ever price hike is already planned for early this year, just as those new shows roll out, so it’s no wonder other entertainment giants are looking to replicate that franchise-driven success.

One of those companies is WarnerMedia, which is already looking to position DC Comics characters more centrally into the streamer’s content strategy.

The company recently shut down standalone streaming service DC Universe and shifted original series like Doom Patrol and Harley Quinn over to the growing HBO Max. It also released Wonder Woman 1984 simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max last month. And there’s a behind-the-scenes effort to shore up the broader DC universe to make it cohesive across all screens.

“Since I joined in August 2019, we have had weekly meetings on our big franchises, talking about how we can collaborate together and how we make the whole more than the parts, how we can bring these amazing character and stories to life in a new and different way,” WarnerMedia studios and networks chair and CEO Ann Sarnoff said this week at CES 2021. “Everything’s connected now, and we’re building a DC Universe plan that is a much more centrally connected but individually executed.”

About the Author: Kelsey Sutton

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