The One Where Friends Takes On Cruella

Ariel Michaeli Ariel Michaeli
Jun. 10 #video-streaming

HBO Max has been releasing new original content left and right this year, but last week's release wasn't the same. That release is the unscripted reunion of TV class Friends.

It also happens that Disney+, the other big streamer in the mix, wanted to show off HBO and release a new movie—Cruella—at the same time.

Although the two come from different genres, they (in a way) target the same age group of parents, which makes them pretty competitive. Let's see who won the weekend.

A Trip Down Memory Lane

Starting with downloads, we compared daily estimates of Disney+ and HBO Max in the US App Store and Google because HBO Max is US-only.

Look at that bump!

HBO Max's downloads more than doubled from their daily average of just around 80K to more than 180K on Friday. Disney, which has been averaging fewer downloads in the US lately, went as high as 73K at their peak this weekend, which was on Sunday.


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Revenue is a Different Story...

But, did those downloads pay? Let's have a look at revenue estimates to answer that:

Sure did, on both ends!

HBO Max added $1.2M of net revenue (after Apple and Google take their cut) on Friday and hugged the #2 position in the Top Grossing chart on the App Store. It moved around a bit throughout the week but is still sitting the top 5.

Disney+ however managed to win this battle with its massive brand power. Our estimates put its big day, which was Tuesday, at $1.8M of net revenue in the US across both platforms.

This isn't a real surprise, but given Cruella required an additional one-time payment and was available in movie theaters, I wasn't sure what to expect.

Competing over one of the most precious things we have, time, is a tough challenge, one both HBO Max and Disney+ are fighting for. HBO has been fighting very aggressively, and in my opinion, with a more "modern" attitude of unifying theater and streaming releases, that's poised to win over the antiquated strategy Disney+ is trying to hold on to by making streaming second class.

I had high hopes for the Premium option when Mulan opened, and looking at the numbers, there was additional revenue from it, but this possible success raises the obvious question of "was the tradeoff worth it?", for which I have no clear answer yet.

What do you think?

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