Disney Dominates D2C & Its Hamilton Release Proves It 

Carol Feigenbaum |
 05/21/20 |
4 min read

Disney Hamilton release

Plans by Disney+ to release the filmed version of Hamilton ahead of schedule has consumers in a frenzy. Just as Star Wars fans gathered early in their living rooms across the globe to see Rey discover her roots, so we can expect fans of Hamilton to once again gather in their homes to sing along. Disney dominates direct to consumer (D2C) right now with this move.

Disney+ Starts a Revolution with Hamilton Release

Hamilton, the wildly popular musical, has set a bar few will be able to even touch. Nominated for 16 Tony awards and taking 11 of them home, this musical hit all the high notes in 2016, weekly raking in 1.9 million in ticket sales.

Skipping the theatres entirely and releasing Broadway’s Hamilton more than a year early, this Disney+ debut could be setting the stage for things to come as more and more consumers look to subscription tv for entertainment.

Having a rotation of new content is a selling point, of course, as 37% of consumers will sign up for streaming just to see a singular show or movie. Though they’ve bypassed the theatres and released other movies early during our COVID-19 isolation (Star Wars), it’s viewed as a curious move to release Hamilton early, as we are on an upward swing. Some say Disney+ would have seen a projected profit of $75-100 million if it went with the typical release route. But Disney is wisely betting on the long game here. And it’s paying off.

Next Gen AI Knows All

Using next generation AI-powered social analytics, we can see top emotions consumers have expressed over the past month about the popular streaming company.


Disney+ is acknowledging that:

  1. a) People are still living much of their lives indoors, and
  2. b) by streaming Hamilton, people who’ve never had the chance to see it on Broadway, can experience this culture-impacting musical from the best seats in the house.

Executive chairman Bob Iger made a poignant statement about it; “In light of the extraordinary challenges facing our world, this story about leadership, tenacity, hope, love and the power of people to unite against the forces of adversity is both relevant and impactful.”

Dominating D2C, Disney+ listening power is clear, setting them apart as a leader as the world returns to shifted daily routines. Hamilton was there for everyone through the quarantine via Instagram relating to the boredom behind doors:


And now Disney+ will bring Hamilton to everyone as they build up their lives and the world repairs.


Streaming subscriptions have become what Cable was to us almost 40 years ago. Channels are scrambling to be part of this trend, including NBC’s Peacock . . . 

Peacock Playing Catch-up

NBC, the network that gave us The Office, Parks and Recreation and 30 Rock is following in the footsteps of Disney+ and Hulu, to bring original content and tv shows just for their subscribers. Already available to Comcast customers, NBC’s streaming company Peacock plans to release their subscription channel to the public on July 15th.

Set to cover the Olympics, NBC had to think fast when it was pushed back to 2021. Not one to cry over spilled milk, they are continuing with their plans. COVID-19 temporarily halted production of filming new, original series, including a modern sci-fi take on Brave New World. But they have a large vault of NBC classics to draw upon in the meantime.

One movie that is sure to generate buzz is much loved fan favorite tv series turned movie, Psych. This tv show ran for 8 seasons, and there was such a demand that a movie was made nearly 3 years after the last episode. Now fans want more, and they are getting it with Psych 2: Come Home Lassie, made just for Peacock’s release in July.


But, while this is promising, can Peacock accomplish what Disney+ and others have? Let’s compare the two iconic companies below to see how they measure up.



Our side-by-side comparison shows that Disney+ wins in sentiment, passion and amount of generated conversation. Peacock is ambling along, slowly raising in passion, but lacking in sentiment and conversation.

With Peacock being a new character in the streaming story, a lot can change between now and July 15th. If they are anything like Disney and pay close attention to consumer conversation, they can increase their brand awareness significantly ahead of their launch. Time will tell . . .

More Streaming to Come?

Over the last few years, cable tv ratings have lost footing as streaming subscriptions have increased.

At the end of 2018, Comcast was down from 22.3 million to 21.9 million customers and by the end of 2019, the company had lost an additional 733,000 video subscribers. DirecTV lost over 2.3 million satellite TV subscribers between 2017 and 2019.

Statista reported in 2013 that cable tv was present in over 100 million homes, in comparison to 2020 where it has been reduced to roughly 82 million.

And the trend is likely to continue as predicted in the graph below.


With a loss in traditional cable, the competition for streaming subscriptions is on:


By using the Quid product, we can go more in depth, each cluster enables us a clickable peek into the precise conversation.


All arrows point to streaming growing. And we can look at key opinion leaders (KOLs) in the space to get a better view.

KOLs to Know

Starting with companies, we see that Netflix is number one with most mentions, however The Walt Disney Company is dominating with the highest in relevance, resonance and reach, and has an overall number 1 rank.


Looking at KOL for people, there seems to be only one name when it comes to highlights. Disney Executive Chairman Bob Iger is what the buzz is all about, taking number one in overall mentions, relevance, resonance, reach, and social sharing. Walt Disney is only second to him.


And the consumers are speaking as well.

Creating a visual is the Brand Passion Index. We see Disney taking it home in passion and Netflix capturing more mentions and sentiment. And surprisingly, Peacock is winning out against Hulu:


And although Disney has a more concentrated circle, they have exceptional passion intensity – so fans love them. That’s an important indicator. And we can expect that to continue to expand as we approach Hamilton’s release. Be sure your brand understands where its sentiment lies as we charge into this Brave New Normal! Reach out for a demo to maximize your visibility and presence, and capture the brand passion in your vertical, like Disney!


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