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Disney Taps Taylor Swift Fandom to Drive Subscriptions as Streamers Generate Buzz

Disney Taps Taylor Swift Fandom to Drive Subscriptions

With streaming services increasingly looking to buzzy, much-anticipated events to drive customer acquisition, Disney+ is using Swifties’ enthusiasm to grow its audience.

The media giant announced Wednesday (Feb. 7) during a call discussing its first-quarter fiscal 2024 earnings results that it will be the exclusive streaming platform for pop star Taylor Swift’s concert film, “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour (Taylor’s Version),” a move that will likely grow the platform’s reach with young consumers and female audiences.

“Over the past year, we’ve all witnessed the creative genius and sheer power of a true cultural phenomenon — Taylor Swift,” CEO Bob Iger told analysts on the call. “When her blockbuster concert film debuts on Disney+ on March 15, … we know audiences are going to absolutely love the chance to relive the electrifying [film] whenever they want.”

Young consumers represent a valuable opportunity for streaming platforms. According to data featured in PYMNTS Intelligence’s Subscription Commerce Tracker, consumers across generations shell out $278 per month on subscription services, and that share rises to $377 for Generation Z.

Last year, Swift accounted for 2% of the music industry’s entire sales.

Disney’s move comes as streaming services find success in their efforts to use exclusive access to highly publicized events to drive new subscriptions. Peacock, for instance, broke streaming records with the AFC wild-card playoff game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Miami Dolphins averaging 23 million viewers.

On parent company Comcast’s latest earnings call, President Mike Cavanagh noted that the company “couldn’t be more pleased” with how the expensive bet paid off, highlighting similarly buzzed-about releases to come, such as the addition of “Oppenheimer” to the platform and the Summer Olympics.

In addition to driving acquisition, these kinds of costly exclusive streaming deals with much-anticipated cultural moments also boost retention.

“We would expect to see an increase in paid subs,” Cavanagh said during the call. “We’re focused now on retention of the subs that came in right around the game. What’s important is both the subs that came in during the game and the engagement of the people that were already on the platform.”

In addition to using the streaming release of the Taylor Swift film, Disney is also turning to subscription bundling to drive engagement, as consumers grow increasingly frustrated with the proliferation of streaming services. Disney Chief Financial Officer Hugh Johnston noted that more consumers have been purchasing bundled subscriptions, which have “significantly lower churn versus our standalone products,” adding that bundles should also “increase engagement.”

Streaming cancellations are on the rise, and roughly 1 in 4 U.S. subscribers to major services like Netflix, Hulu and Disney+ have canceled at least three subscriptions in the last two years.

Plus, according to findings from 2022 highlighted in another installment of the Subscription Commerce Tracker®, 55% of consumers think there are too many streaming options, and 58% of Americans subscribed to video streaming services are subscribed to three or more platforms.

Overall, consumers want more streamlined digital platforms. The PYMNTS Intelligence study “Consumer Interest in an Everyday App” found that 35% of U.S. consumers are very or extremely interested in an everyday app — a single online app that allows users to connect and coordinate activities in one online space.