Disney is exploring a membership program in the style of Amazon Prime, as first reported by The Wall Street Journal. The program could offer various exclusive perks, discounts, and other enticements for subscribers to spend more money on Disney products and services. A secondary benefit would be allowing the company to collect more information on customers’ tastes and habits, improving its ability to cross-sell across its various businesses — from streaming services to theme parks to merchandise.
According to the WSJ, discussion of the membership program is very much in its early stages. It’s not clear what segments of Disney’s audience it would target, how much it would cost, or when the program might launch. Internally, some executives have referred to the project as “Disney Prime,” though that would not be the program’s name at launch.
Disney’s chief communications officer Kristina Schake confirmed that the company is looking into a membership program in a statement to the WSJ. “Technology is giving us new ways to customize and personalize the consumer experience so that we are delivering entertainment, experiences and products that are most relevant to each of our guests,” said Schake. “A membership program is just one of the exciting ideas that is being explored.”
Disney does already offer a membership program of sorts: the D23 fan club, which costs $99.99 a year for one person or $129.99 for two (the “23” refers to the year of Disney’s founding: 1923). Benefits include the opportunity to buy exclusive merchandise, a subscription to the quarterly Disney twenty-three magazine, and discounted tickets to the D23 Expo, which bills itself as the “ultimate Disney fan event.” The mooted membership program, though, would be aimed at more casual fans, according to the WSJ.
A primary benefit of a “Disney Prime” membership program would be allowing the company to target customers with more of its products. In a recent earnings call, Disney CEO Bob Chapek referred to the company’s “franchise flywheel” and its ability to “reach people with our uniquely engaging content across an array of touch points.” In other words: Disney owns a lot of content, from Marvel to Star Wars to Pixar and more; it has a streaming service, theme parks, resorts, and is even building its own residential communities. Why not bundle more of this together and let people really live Disney.