How Can Disney+ Identify and Activate its Next Tentpole’s Fans?

At Parrot Analytics, we quantify the attention economy to provide a 360 degree view into the elusive X-factor of making a hit series. In this article, we demonstrate how Disney+’s marketing team can leverage fans’ cross-platform preferences to prioritize and engage audiences and to likely increase subscriber growth.


 Top 3 Insights:

  1. Identify Disney+’s largest accessible (i.e., likely to convert) fan base for the next tentpole: Marvel fans. Prioritize fans from Marvel who are one of the largest fans of Disney+ (second only to Disney) and its other entertainment brands revealed via brand affinity – a measure of shared brand preferences
  2. Activate Marvel fans before a tentpole’s debut by targeting its fans’ preferences. Increase perceived value and cultivate Marvel fans’ interest in Disney+ by promoting library content that leads to Marvel content consumption confirmed via content affinity – a measure of shared content preferences.
  3. Leverage other channels and platforms to raise a tentpole (Marvel) fans’ awareness. Increase the success of a Marvel tentpole by placing its ads and trailers near highly in-demand shows on Disney Channel or Disney XD with high content affinity to Marvel.
How Can Disney+ Identify and Prioritize the Next Tentpole?

The Mandalorian has become a world-wide success topping our global charts. With it and its library of nostalgia, Disney+ certainly met expectations in its first launch markets.

But, what’s next?

In order to identify tentpoles that will define the platform we leverage brand affinity to quantify: 

  1. the potential size of the fans that a title can attract and,
  2. the size of the overlap in audience demand for one entertainment brand with audience demand for the other entertainment brands.

When we evaluated the fans of Disney+ one week before its launch, our insights indicated that the success of Marvel titles would be key for subscriber growth.

Chart 1 visualizes the size and percentage of overlap in audience demand (i.e., fans) between fans of Disney+ and the various entertainment brands from in its library: Disney, Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar, National Geographic. The overlap of audience demand between Disney, Star Wars, and Marvel and the remaining entertainment brands are also represented. 


The evidence (Chart 1): 

  • Marvels fans (43%) are the second greatest portion of Disney+’s fans or potential subscribers. 

  • A great portion of Star Wars’ fans (73%) are also fans of Marvel. So Marvel content should retain these fans.
  • Yet, less than half of Marvel fans (41%) are Star Wars fans, which means they may not have converted quite yet.                                                                                                            

  • The percentages of Marvel’s fans which double as fans of the other Disney+ entertainment brands represent a larger fan base for Disney+ to leverage for subscriptions, even if the percentages are smaller than Star Wars.                          

Our analyses confirm that producing a Marvel tentpole — a highly in-demand Marvel original — will likely increase Disney+’s subscription growth. It is beyond the scope of this article, but Disney+ could evaluate each Marvel original’s potential to be the tentpole (read here for a step-by-step example of this process).

How Can Disney+ Activate Marvel Audiences Now?

Marvel audiences are important for Disney+ to capture, but the next Marvel series to launch, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier and WandaVision will not be released until late 2020. 

What can Disney+ do to mobilize Marvel fans in the meantime?

Disney+ can keep the Marvel universe top-of-mind by releasing movies such as The New Mutants and Black Widow or promoting Marvel titles across its platforms such as Marvel’s Agents of Shield and Marvel’s Avengers AssembleUniquely, promoting Marvel’s Runaways (as well as other Marvel titles) on Hulu has the possibility to increase the value of the bundle at the Marvel tentpole debut. Another approach is to leverage Marvel-related music and video games to nurture a sense of community amongst Marvel fans.

Exploring options

Our content affinity analysis evidences the possibility of another powerful option.

Disney+ could promote tiles from sub-genres with high content affinity to (i.e., lead audiences to attend to) Marvel such as: superhero, animated sitcom, science-fiction comedy, animated comedy and sitcom titles in its library to draw in audiences of the yet to come Marvel tentpole(s). 

Increasing the attention paid to titles in sub-genres with high affinity to Marvel can increase Disney+’s chances of acquiring subscribers by growing Marvel audiences’ appetite for upcoming Marvel blockbusters (see Chart 2 below). 

Chart 2 depicts the 5 sub-genres in Disney+’s library which had the highest affinity to Marvel titles; affinity was indexed by the average across sub-genres.

Disney+ has been successfully promoting at least one of these high affinity titles: The Simpsons (see Chart 3 below). However, the team could also aim to garner more demand for Star Wars Resistance as well as Boy Meets World and Bizaardvark which generate moderate demand relative to the average Disney+ title.

Chart 3 depicts the demand of the 5 most in-demand Disney+ titles within the 5 high affinity to Marvel sub-genres. Their demand is indexed and compared to Disney+’s average title demand. 

Likewise, our affinity metrics imply that placing advertising campaigns for upcoming Marvel hits near highly in-demand shows within high-affinity sub-genres on other Disney platforms would materially increase demand performance. This could include shows such as Marvel’s Guardian of the Galaxy, Kirby Buckets, as well as Walk the Prank.

The same strategy can also be used to leverage shows on competitors’ channels that may have an even higher affinity to – or greater likelihood to lead to demand for –  the upcoming tentpole.

Final Thoughts

The demand for all content can be monetized. Understanding audiences’ content associations, brand preferences and habits not only supports successful content strategies, but also marketing campaigns.

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