Not So Marvelous: Disney Is Dealt Brutal Blow by Disgustingly Raunchy Superhero Show
The last couple of years have been a massive referendum on Disney’s preferred strategy of taking a beloved IP and just draining it dry of any clout and cultural heft it may have.
A recent batch of Nielsen ratings focused on streaming shows in 2022 hammers that point home in powerful fashion.
Nielsen took a look at streaming viewership numbers for 2022, and what it found was that Disney’s current strategy of running things into the ground is decidedly not paying off.
To get the good news for Disney out of the way first: When it came to overall streaming programs, Disney actually represented itself nicely. While Netflix (with heavy hitters like beloved sci-fi show “Stranger Things” and young children’s show “Cocomelon”) dominated the top 15 overall streaming programs by total minutes watched, Disney did pop up periodically with shows like “Bluey” and “The Simpsons,” as well as the movie “Encanto.”
But if you peel back that onion another layer, you can see that that “good news” for Disney is hardly that at all.
Because if you look at 2022’s top 15 original streaming programs, it shows that Disney’s own intellectual properties are losing their luster.
Netflix, which is dealing with its own headaches despite its relative dominance in the streaming service world, owned 13 of the 15 top original streaming programs in 2022. Amazon Prime featured the other two.
Nowhere to be seen on that list? Disney Plus. That’s a particularly embarrassing problem given that Disney, unlike Netflix or Amazon Prime, owns two of the biggest entertainment properties in the world — Marvel and Star Wars.
Of course, had Disney not released anything in 2022, maybe you chalk it up as not your year and move on. But Disney didn’t just release content in 2022 — it released some of its heaviest hitters.
In 2022 alone, Disney helped produce “She-Hulk,” “Ms. Marvel” and “Moon Knight” streaming shows from the Marvel side of their ledger. As for Star Wars, Disney released the highly-anticipated Kenobi mini-series in 2022. Technically, “The Book of Boba Fett” debuted in 2021, but at the very tail end of it (Dec. 29 to be exact), so that can be counted as a 2022 show as well.
Despite those hyped shows, Disney was nowhere to be found on the list of top 15 original streaming programs of 2022.
While Netflix does appear to have a stranglehold on the original programming, Amazon Prime Video was able to crack the list — and it’s one of those Amazon shows that should give Disney genuine cause of self-reflection.
Coming in at 11th place, Amazon Prime’s raunchy “The Boys” show garnered 10.6 billion minutes of watch time.
Why does this mean anything for Disney? Because “The Boys” is a superhero show… you know, the kind of show Disney has spent untold millions (maybe billions at this point) building an entire “cinematic universe” out of.
To be clear, I’m not advocating for anyone to watch “The Boys,” and won’t be speaking too much on the content or quality of the show itself. It’s a wildly degenerate show that’s meant to deconstruct superhero worship, and the series begins with a very graphic and gruesome death after a super-fast hero accidentally runs into a civilian (seriously) and features just copious amounts of sex, violence, gore, drug use and anti-religious musings.
But, it clearly has some connection with viewers — a connection that Disney properties are sorely lacking right now.
So aside from the X-rated content (which Disney has always been incredibly averse to dabbling with), what’s the biggest difference between what “The Boys” and its 10-plus billion minutes of viewing time do and what Disney does with its floundering shows?
In a word: Oversaturation.
“The Boys” show, which is based on a comic book, is nowhere to really be found outside of those two mediums. There have only been three seasons of “The Boys” thus far, and they’ve released in July 2019, September 2020 and June 2022. While season 4 has been confirmed, it does not have a release date yet.
That’s, at minimum, 14 months before each new season drops.
Look at the list above again as far as what Disney produced in 2022 alone. There are at least five tentpole shows that Disney released in 2022 alone. “The Boys” hasn’t even had five seasons total yet.
More so, you can’t spend three minutes on the internet without hearing about some new fancy project Disney has cooking for its IPs, whether it’s a video game, spinoff, app or branded merchandise.
One way or another, the recently returned CEO Bob Iger will have his work cut out for him.
Disney’s not just getting beat in the streaming arena. They’re getting beat at their own game.
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