Since launch we have regularly contacted (rather tweeted at) Asad Ayaz, President of Marketing at The Walt Disney Studios about this issue. We’re not sure what more can be done or who else needs to hear this but it’s time to put it on paper.
For reasons that flummox the greatest of minds in the Disney+ fan community, Disney regularly leaves their Original films and series without reserved title pages or coming soon dates. As we mention every time we contact Mr. Ayaz, Netflix doesn’t find this difficult to implement and it should have nothing to do with how long they’ve been in business.
Netflix Gets It
Netflix produces title pages that appear in their search for Originals up to 6 months out. Netflix also releases about 5 times as many originals as Disney+ and still manages to get this done reliably. Earlier this week they announced dates for over 40 films coming this fall. We checked – the majority were already listed on Netflix and we were able to add the ones we plan to watch to our watchlist… This is a common sense way that marketers should expect consumers to respond when new titles and release dates are announced.
We’ve mentioned before that Netflix has room for improvement. They’re so on top of it that they add pages before they have a date, logo, still image, trailer, or anything. We’d argue they go too far. Sometimes even after releasing that information they take a while to add it to the page. This example below looks beyond stupid – but it allows subscribers to take the action you’d want subscribers to take after announcing a release.
This page doesn’t even mention the release date is December 24th. But the beauty is that it doesn’t matter. Their platform has the necessary features built in to make that information unnecessary. If you click “Remind Me” it says, “This title will appear in My List when it becomes available.” Boom. That’s it. You don’t need to know the date because their watchlist (which is properly implemented, unlike Disney’s) shows on the home screen as a row and when new titles are released they pop in to the front and are one of the first things you see when you log in! No memory needed.
That’s what matters and Disney doesn’t seem to get it.
Disney will routinely get to a point where a trailer, poster, date, and series of stills are all released without the simple task of sticking a placeholder page in the Disney+ search system. While they shouldn’t necessarily be adding these barebones pages Netflix does they can easily get visually appealing pages added over a month before an original is released. We’d take Netflix’s functional, if ugly, pages over nothing any day.
What Does Disney+ Do?
We’re incredibly frustrated that Doogie Kamealoha M.D., a series we’ve been excited for and advocated for has been let down by Disney’s team. Less than 2 weeks until the premiere of this weekly series and no placeholder page exists. Fans cannot add it to their watchlist so they remember to watch it when it debuts on September 8th. Netflix wouldn’t even dream about cutting it this close with something this important.
The inconsistency is also quite concerning. You’d think by now the marketing would have a regular plan for this stuff or policy, but every title follows its own rules. Another example – the title pages for WandaVision, Loki, and Falcon and the Winter Soldier were live over a year before the series premiered. Yes, the pandemic caused a delay but even without the pandemic the pages were up about 8 months before the first was scheduled to premiere. Hawkeye, now 3 months from its premiere has no page but a date and stills have been released which is more than enough to put together a reserved page.
Hopefully in the future the marketing improves. One thing Disney+ does well is the actual promotional marketing on TV, in Times Square, with tie-ins, commercials etc. What’s odd is the service itself is extremely lackluster at marketing its own product.
I won’t turn this into yet another tangent about their lack of a Coming Soon page/ section or NEW indicators on thumbnails or newly added episodes or NEW indicators on thumbnails or newly added films or series on the home screen because we’ve spoken about this in multiple pieces. It’s no secret that I think Disney+ UI is terrible in its current state and am partial to Netflix and HBO Max. I think Disney has the best content so housing it in a service that doesn’t promote it well or make it easy to view and navigate is depressing.
I am hopeful a day comes when Disney announces a new title and I go to Disney+ and find the page has gone live at the same time the press release went out. I can’t understand the reason for this difficulty – it has nothing to do with licensing or limitations of their platform.
For now, a list of upcoming originals missing their title pages will be maintained here. This is a new feature we will update regularly! Just yesterday Dug Days received a “coming soon” page the same day they released the trailer. Have they learned? We’d still have preferred the page go live weeks ago when the release date was announced.
Have you ever went to add an upcoming Original to your list and found it didn’t have a page yet?
Drew Ryan is a film, TV, and Disney geek. He has degrees in English, Student Personnel Administration, and Library & Information Science from Lawrence University, Concordia University-Wisconsin, and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Interested in the minutia and licensing of streaming service content, he is always publishing lists, suggestions, and advocating for Disney’s missing library to be added to Disney+. Drew subscribes to Disney+, Hulu, Netflix, HBO Max, and Paramount+. You can find him waxing nostalgic over classic Disney Channel or geeking out over Marvel, CW shows, & Disney on Twitter.