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No. of Recommendations: 13
A couple of random thoughts:

Back in the Stone Age of cable TV, Disney decided to have a channel, and co-ventured with Group W (Westinghouse) as the clearance and advertising arm (Disney did not yet own ABC.) They shortly decided they could make more with a pure subscription service (a la HBO) and the partnership dissolved. Flash forward a couple years, it turned they were wrong (in part because of price, in part because cable ops were not yet equipped to do multiple pay packages, and HBO got there first.)

Anyway, they later came to realize that by segregating their content *away* from everyone, they were missing out on some of the greatest synergies of all (yes, there really are, sometimes.) With only 5% of the population subscribing, they weren't selling Princess dresses in Toys-R-Us because most of the little girls hadn't seen the movies. They weren't capitalizing on their then-roster of superheroes (Dumbo, Grizzley Adams, etc) and spinning them into rides at the theme parks, they weren't selling coloring books, lunch boxes, and all the other branded stuff that they had in the past. Dave Crockett hats sold because everybody watched the weekly Disney show on free TV. As cable splintered the audience that show lost the power to move the culture.

When they went to basic cable, suddenly they had an audience of every tot, toddler, pre-teen and teenager all aching to buy Miley Cyrus posters, Mickey Mouse pillows and other merch in the Disney stores. They looped the more popular characters into theme rides, and then used the channel to keep the memes alive for spinoffs, folllow-ons, sequels, and direct-to-DVD films which kept the animation business alive, if not prospering.

Since then, of course, they have *exploded* into Marvel, StarWars, Pixar and the rest, going through a renaissance where they have learned how to take IP and sell it through multiple distribution and consumer channels, one reinforcing the next, back and forth, like a championship NBA team dribbling the ball down-court.

Now Disney is huge, no doubt, but then it was huge (for its time) in the 60's and 70's, with a rock-star stable of Cinderella, Pinocchio, Snow White, a weekly TV show, Disney World and DisneyLand, and more, and they found that withdrawing from the general marketplace had negative effects on the overall corporation - and they reversed it within a couple years. I am not saying the same thing would happen now, and they do have a Disney Channel available (and Disney Jr) on basic, so maybe it's a fraught thought.

I don't doubt their ability to create enough product to fill a streaming service, especially for tykes who will watch the same film 30 times and giggle every time. Pre-teens and teens, not so much, so more original fare will be required. I do wonder how much they will be able to extract from the consumer wallet when the family already has Netflix, even if there's no Disney product on Netflix because hey, still lots of animated stuff for the little ones.

Dunno. Will it be big enough to move the needle? Dunno. Will it aid the "synergy" business? Dunno. It didn't before and it didn't before. It's a gamble, but not a bet the farm roll, so I'll be interested, but I wouldn't think it will be transformative or material in the context of investing, at least within the next couple years.
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