New York (CNN Business)Over on Disney+ it’s time to play the music; it’s time to light the lights as “The Muppet Show” debuts on the service Friday.
All five seasons of Jim Henson’s classic variety show starring Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy and failed stand-up comedian Fozzie Bear are now available to stream. Disney noted that the the fourth and fifth seasons have “never previously been released on home entertainment.” The show will join other Muppet media, including “The Muppet Movie” and “The Muppet Christmas Carol,” which is already on Disney+.
The streaming debut of “The Muppet Show,” arguably the brand’s most seminal work, may not have the fanfare of a new Pixar film like “Soul” or a fresh Marvel Studios series like “WandaVision.” And a series from 1976 that features guest stars like Liza Minnelli and Gene Kelly is unlikely to fully grab Gen-Zers’ frenetic attention spans.
But the premiere of the series matters because it’s another showcase of the seemingly endless depth to Disney+’s content library.
As streaming services try to figure out how to build up their libraries to nab more subscribers, the already content-rich Disney+ — a service that has everything from Mickey Mouse to Bart Simpson — gets even richer.
The Muppets are more nostalgic than some other brands, but they are still beloved by a faithful audience. Away from TV, the Muppets have starred in films, become internet memes, sung hit songs, won Oscars and front fun, albeit rickety, 3D theme park attractions named after them.
They may not have the blockbuster prowess of Star Wars or even Disney Animation, but in streaming a recognizable name is sometimes all that’s needed to get subscribers to pay $6.99 a month. That is especially the case for one of streaming’s most important demographics: kids.
Children’s programming has been a focal point for streamers for years. The prevailing theory is that if services have must-watch content for kids, parents will have to sign up. Also, it could help build lifelong loyalty to the service as the child grows up — something Disney (DIS) knows all about, considering how many adults go to Disney World every year.
As streaming has proliferated, so has kids’ content. In just one example earlier this week, WarnerMedia, CNN’s parent company, announced it will add more children’s programming to its streaming service, HBO Max.
The new shows and movies will expand the service’s already robust library of children’s programming — a library that also includes the Muppets via WarnerMedia’s partnership with Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization that makes “Sesame Street.”
Disney+ didn’t really need “The Muppet Show” to bring in paying customers: The service is nearing 100 million subscribers, and has become the crown jewel of Disney’s entire media empire, which is currently besieged by the coronavirus pandemic.
Yet in the streaming world, there’s no such thing as too much content, especially when it comes to kids’ titles. By adding “The Muppet Show,” Disney+ is trying to make a connection, rainbow or otherwise, that will reach old fans of the show and will hopefully create new ones.
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