Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany star as Wanda Maximoff and Vision in Marvel’s “WandaVision.”
Disney’s “WandaVision” is so powerful and popular, it appeared to take down the company’s streaming service on Friday.
Disney+ experienced a brief outage early Friday morning, around the same time the latest episode of “WandaVision” premiered, according to Downdetector, a site that tracks reports of outages from internet services. There were also numerous complaints across social media from frustrated Disney+ subscribers. Disney+ was operational again within about 10 minutes. Disney did not comment on the outage.
“WandaVision” is Disney’s first crack at a TV series based on its Marvel franchise. Unlike Netflix, which releases all episodes of a given TV season at once, Disney+ episodes premiere on a weekly basis, usually at 3 a.m. ET/midnight PT every Friday.
That release schedule spurs rabid fans to stay up late or wake up early before each episode is spoiled on social media. By the time most of the world wakes up Friday morning, whatever happened on the latest episode is already dominating the conversation online.
In short, Disney’s release schedule extends the staying power of a show over the course of several weeks, instead of all at once, like when fans binge through “Bridgerton” or whatever the hot Netflix series of the moment happens to be.
And Disney’s release schedule for Marvel and Star Wars shows on Disney+ will ensure that same hype repeats itself practically every week throughout the rest of 2021. Disney’s next Marvel show, “Captain Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” will premiere a couple weeks after the current season of “WandaVision” ends. After that, the new Marvel show “Loki” will premiere. The pattern is expected to continue through the end of the year when the next round of Star Wars shows are scheduled to begin.
The release strategy has paid off for Disney, which is still in the early days of building up a library of original content for Disney+. Disney said last week that Disney+ had 94.9 million subscribers as of early January. The company predicts it’ll have up to 260 million Disney+ subscribers by 2024.
Disney still has a long way to go to build up its library of new content. Netflix had several years to do that before the Disney+ launch. The vast majority of the Disney+ library consists of legacy shows and movies, which don’t have the same stickiness as new stuff to watch.
But for now, Disney can keep customers stuck to the service week after week with enticing offerings from its two most popular franchises, Marvel and Star Wars.