Top Shows and Movies on Disney+ in December: Disney+ is leaning into its family-friendly catalog and it’s paying off

5 January, 2023

The two most in-demand films on Disney+ in December benefitted recent premieres of their sequels - Avatar: The Way of Water and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. The original Avatar film, 13 years old at this point, had by far the highest demand on Disney+ for the month with 63.28 times the average series demand. It was followed by Black Panther with 46.65x demand. Last month the original Black Panther was flying even higher at 84x demand following the premiere of its sequel on November 10th. Hit Marvel movies still make up a core of the most enticing films Disney+ has to offer subscribers. In addition to Black Panther, five of the top ten series hailed from the sprawling mega-franchise.


Two Christmas movies featured in the ten most in-demand movies on Disney+ last month. The Nightmare Before Christmas topped the ranking of all Christmas movies earlier in the season, boosted in part by the phenomenal success of Tim Burton’s recent Netflix series Wednesday. But once we considered demand for the full month of December, more traditional Christmas classics like Home Alone 2: Lost in New York gained ground. Home Alone 2 was the most in-demand holiday movie on Disney+ in December with 34.02 times the average series demand.

Family-friendly is an apt description of the most popular shows on Disney+. Half of the ten most in-demand shows are geared toward children. Two series on Disney+ stand above the rest as consistently popular with audiences. The Simpsons had the highest demand this month (52.75x) and has been one of the most popular shows on Disney+ since it first launched.  The fact that the show is currently airing episodes plus a catalog of its previous 33 seasons help make The Simpsons one of the most powerful assets in Disney+’s lineup.


The Mandalorian is also regularly among the most in-demand shows on Disney+.  Strategically it serves as an anchor for the ever-expanding Star Wars franchise. This month Andor was the fourth most in-demand show on the platform and last month Tales of the Jedi made the top ten cut, but as spinoffs come and go The Mandalorian has a steadily high level of demand.

Notably absent from the top ten this month are any Marvel shows.  In the past these have been a dominant offering from the platform and, while Marvel movies still are a strong draw, the lack of new shows in the franchise is being felt.

The family-friendly make-up of Disney+’s platform is apparent when we look at how its catalog breaks down by genre. The drama genre, which is usually the largest on most other streamers in the US, accounts for only 5% of titles on Disney+. Children’s series make up more than a quarter of titles on the platform - the largest genre by number of titles. Despite being the largest genre, Disney+ isn’t just inflating this number with a lot of shows that audiences don’t want. The 28% of shows on Disney+ in the children’s genre account for 34% of demand, showing how this content punches above its weight on Disney+.


However, the real overperformer on the platform is the action & adventure genre.  These shows represent only 9% of the Disney+ catalog but drive 22% of demand for shows on the platform.  The platform’s flagship Marvel and Star Wars series generally fall into this genre and are some of the biggest draws for subscribers.  

While the make-up of Disney+ may look strangely skewed (huge children’s offering, not much drama, and a high dependence on action/adventure) it makes sense when considering Disney’s broader corporate strategy and how Disney+ can be bundled with Hulu.  If we were to look at the Disney+/Hulu bundle, its catalog make-up would look more similar to other platforms.  If a corporation is going to juggle two platforms it only makes sense for them to have distinctly appealing catalogs.

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