Disney Woes Reveal the Weak Side of OTT Players

Disney’s new over the top (OTT) video streaming service has come under fire during its first week of operation after customers were dogged by two serious shortcomings. Called Disney+ and positioned as a rival to Netflix, the service already boasted 10 million subscribers on the day of its launch, November 12th. However, Disney badly underprovisioned their service, leading to numerous complaints as customers found they were unable to connect.

Disney’s inability to predict demand is especially baffling given that only three countries could access the service on its launch date (the USA, Canada and the Netherlands) and many customers had paid for their subscription months in advance.

To make matters much worse, many other customers are now unable to access their service because their Disney+ accounts have been hacked already.

ZDNet reported that credentials for thousands of prepaid Disney+ accounts are available for purchase on the dark web.

Some journalists tried to defend Disney by saying the corporation should not be blamed if users choose weak passwords or if they have reused a password that has already been compromised elsewhere. However, Disney have not helped themselves by forcing users to rely on a password as their sole means of authenticating themselves, instead of giving the option to use a second factor for authentication.

Disney owns the rights to singing princesses, and men in super-powered iron suits, and Han Solo and wookies and more, so they will be hoping that most customers soon forgive their failings. That will depend on whether these problems continue. The Disney+ service was made available in another three countries on November 19th, and six more markets will come online in March 2020. Will the executives have learned a lesson from the complaints received thus far, or will they continue making the same mistakes as they extend their reach?

The Walt Disney Company is a very profitable business that owns many lucrative assets, and few firms can rival the popularity of their brand. They have a lot of resources, a lot of acumen, and a valuable reputation built up over many years. That they would risk that reputation by providing an unreliable and insecure service shows what low expectations we all have for certain kinds of services. Accounts like these have a real value, and customers deserve protection that is commensurate with the amount they have spent. The worlds of technology and electronic communications have been dominated by businesses with notoriously lax attitudes to service and security. That Disney has sunk straight into the mire, instead of raising standards for the rest of us, shows how difficult it is to get providers of comms services to make the investments necessary to keep their promises and protect their customers.

Eric Priezkalns
Eric Priezkalns
Eric is the Editor of Commsrisk. Look here for more about the history of Commsrisk and the role played by Eric.

Eric is also the Chief Executive of the Risk & Assurance Group (RAG), a global association of professionals working in risk management and business assurance for communications providers.

Previously Eric was Director of Risk Management for Qatar Telecom and he has worked with Cable & Wireless, T‑Mobile, Sky, Worldcom and other telcos. He was lead author of Revenue Assurance: Expert Opinions for Communications Providers, published by CRC Press. He is a qualified chartered accountant, with degrees in information systems, and in mathematics and philosophy.