The Wonderful World of Disney started as an anthology TV program way back in the 1950s, under the name “Walt Disney’s Disneyland.” The program had several names and several themes throughout the years, but the key component was a showcase of some of Disney’s most classic film moments.
For countless families for three generations, “Wonderful World” was must-see family TV. Popcorn would be popped, and mom, dad, and the kids would plop down on the couch to watch what may have been the only program they shared during the week. The shows were a strong ratings draw even well into the era of The Disney Channel round the clock Disney programming. While that channel focused mainly on content specifically produced for the channel, “Wonderful World” was the opportunity for people who didn’t already own the classics on video to watch with the family and remember why they fell in love with Disney magic in the first place.
As Disney grew its programming empire — with ESPN, the Star Wars, and Marvel movie franchises, and a host of related product lines — Wonderful World became a bit of a side note. In the same span of time, TV viewing changed. More people were opting for streaming media, especially Disney’s most coveted demographics.
“Cutting the cord,” or abandoning cable for streaming services such as Apple TV, Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime has become the “cool” choice for millions of consumers. Disney has tried to keep up, using its ESPN family of channels to offer some of the most innovative and pioneering streaming content available.
But ESPN will not be enough to keep the Disney brand connected to a market in flux. They need more streaming content. Fortunately for Disney, they have a ton of content in the can. Unfortunately, Disney’s predominant marketing ploy — limited release — doesn’t really work well in a streaming context. People HATE it when a program that was available to stream is no longer available, and Disney has been slow to offer their classic movies for sale, even on services like Prime, where the users own the content.
While the company has — and likely will continue — to offer some Star Wars-themed content through streaming services, they could really remake the mold by offering Disney Classics through streaming services.
Recently, there have been some rumors — unfounded at this point — that Disney may well be considering offering its “Wonderful World” lineup as streaming content. Even if they released this as a standalone, pay streaming channel, they have more than enough content to entice tens of millions to subscribe. Parents would likely flock to the price of a couple Happy Meals a month to access all of Disney’s classic movies on their mobile devices. What could be a massive boon for Disney could be seen as the ultimate concession to the New Normal for TV viewing. Continuing to hold out in a world that’s already moved on doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense at this point.