Disney+ is shifting its original series release date from Fridays to Wednesdays starting next month, The Hollywood Reporter’s Lesley Goldberg reports. The streamer adjusted its weekly schedule to avoid competing with Netflix, which popularized releasing shows on Fridays. Loki was first to conform; the series premiered on Disney+ on June 9, Wednesday, two days before Netflix’s Lupin, the second season of Hulu’s Love, Victor, and the new season of Apple’s Home Before Dark, effectively capitalizing on the Wednesday release date without having to worry about losing viewers to other streaming services.
Executives made a calculated risk and it worked. Marvel’s Loki immediately climbed the ranks to become the most-watched series premiere in the history of Disney+. The changes span all original series content currently scheduled to premiere on Disney+ with Loki leading the way.
This game didn’t start with Loki. Shifting release dates to increase viewership and maximize a product’s impact is hardly an isolated case. Studios have long been tactical about circulation to optimize profits and avert competition. Even in journalism, it’s just as important to know when to come out with a story as what to write about, since it affects exposure and (for film) sales.
But the Loki example proves strategic scheduling matters just as much in streaming as in filmmaking and traditional broadcasting. Besides, media conglomerates aren’t just competing with other movie companies; they have their own individual entries vying for the same slots. Like any seasoned distributor, Disney understands this perfectly. Hence, original movies will continue to air on Fridays. This applies to every single Disney property, from Lucasfilm and Marvel to standard Disney content. The streamer is hoping to better accommodate its expanding slate and duly account for audience interest by adhering to a strict timetable.
Thanks to Loki and previous Marvel and Star Wars releases, Disney+ is among the first to adopt a weekly launch schedule over the usual binge model. Disney executives find the traditional approach more favorable to engagement — and in keeping entertainment outlets talking — when trying to build up audience anticipation.
Other streamers have since followed suit, beginning with Amazon Prime. Contemporaries HBO Max and Peacock have already monopolized the Thursday schedule, while Disney-owned Hulu continues to alternate between weekly and binge releases on Wednesdays (like Loki) and Fridays. Now that most media companies are coming forward with their own streamers, platforms would now have to habitually compete with each other the same way traditional broadcasting has for generations, and based on overall performance, compartmentalization seems to be going smoothly. It is interesting to consider how streaming services even know to shuffle their release dates. An industry-wide WhatsApp, perhaps? Wouldn’t that be funny if it were true?
The Disney+ shows currently competing for weekend attention already have a preset new schedule ready. Check here for the updated release dates. Loki, starring Tom Hiddleston as the God of Mischief, Gugu Mbatha-Raw as TVA judge Ravenna Renslayer, Owen Wilson as TVA agent Mobius M. Mobius, Wunmi Mosaku as TVA hunter B-15, Eugene Cordero as TVA receptionist Casey, Sophia Di Martino as Loki’s female Variant, and Sasha Lane as Hunter C-20, is currently streaming weekly on Disney+. Tara Strong also features as the voice of anthropomorphic clock Miss Minutes. Michael Waldron (Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness) is the showrunner, with Kate Herron (Sex Education) directing. There’s a reason it was a hit out of the gate for Disney+. Loki has had such a strong start.