In David Mitchell’s 2004 book Cloud Atlas, (not the movie, mind you) sections of the story that take place in a dystopian future where characters refer to major industries as their biggest brand. Gas isn’t gas, its “Exon.” Similarly, films aren’t films, they’re “Disneys.” Though there’s no reference to online shopping, one can assume buying stuff on the internet would simply be called “Amazon.” Well, based on these companies ever-trending toward user consolidation, you can guess who’s caught a whiff of that Amazon goldmine that’s called “Prime.”
Disney is reportedly digging deep into an idea for its own kind of exclusive membership program. According to The Wall Street Journal, based on four anonymous sources close to the ongoing conversations, Disney executives have internally called this initiative “Disney Prime” as an obvious implication for what they expect this new subscription service to entail. Prime memberships offer the fast, free shipping packages it’s most known for, but also includes discounts at Whole Foods and access to Amazon Originals on Prime Video.
The plan reportedly has the support of Disney CEO Bob Chapek, and if all goes well it could be available this year. The first step will apparently include in-app commerce for the Disney+ streaming service, allowing users to buy merch by scanning QR codes while using the app, which link to the online Disney store.
Since Disney has its hands on so much of the most popular franchises around, the media giant is considering how it can leverage that to incentivize more people to sign up to a subscription. Subscribing to Disney’s new service could allow you cheaper tickets for their theme parks, cruises, or toys. The big example WSJ used was an exclusive toy version of the darksaber as seen on Star Wars: The Clone Wars and later The Mandalorian. The Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge build-a-lightsaber experience has proved extremely popular since it debuted in 2019, even though it costs over $200 per person for the chance to build your own “laser sword.” It’s easy to see why Disney execs think they will get quite a few people shelling out their money just for the opportunity to spend even more money on toys.
Disney did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment, but Disney corporate spokesperson Kristina Schake told Deadline that “Disney is more than a brand, it’s a lifestyle, and we are exploring how to better serve them across our many touchpoints.” She added “a membership program is just one of the exciting ideas being explored.”
The company did not give any indication about what kinds of prices they were looking at, how long a membership might last, or when these memberships could be on the table. Amazon Prime memberships go for $139 a year or $14.99 a month in the U.S. after a recent increase. Annual fees are expected to get pricier in the UK and Europe.
Disney already has a kind of exclusive subscription called the D23 Fan Club that gives access to events and merch as well as a three year discounted sub to Disney+. Though any new kind of “Prime” membership would likely be more focused on the company’s broad range of franchises rather than the company’s core staple of animated movies and cartoons.
This could shake things up for Disney+ and the company’s other streaming services as well. The company recently announced it was adding a $7.99 ad-based subscription to the platform, at the same time making all other subscriber tiers on Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu, with or without ads, more expensive overall starting Dec. 8.
Disney isn’t the only major conglomerate who has finally seen just how big an opportunity they’re missing out on not imitating Amazon Prime. Last month, Paramount+ and Walmart announced they would start offering a membership bundle, allowing users of the latter access to Paramount’s ad-based subscription tier at no additional cost.