Paul Lell (Engineering Support Lead)
What Disney Gets Right About Investing in Experience
By Paul Lell & Brian Kline
A Disney park is a unique experience. Disney is a place to be with your family, have fun and create memories together. Critical to this experience is releasing the concerns of everyday life and ‘letting the magic happen.’ Disney knows it must do two things to create magic on earth. First, create incredible characters, worlds, and stories. Second, create truly immersive experiences for you within these worlds, and don’t let those experiences get interrupted. This is achieved through frequent interaction with Mickey and his friends, incredible service, larger-than-life castles, nearly constant live performances, and members of the “Disney cast” whose job is to say “yes.”To this day, it doesn’t feel like there’s anyone inside the Goofy you meet on Main Street USA. That’s just Goofy, right?
Further, digital technology has given Disney’s Imagineers a powerful new medium to create immersive experiences in the parks. In the wrong hands, digital tools can create clumsy, glitchy, distracting experiences. But in the hands of someone who understands immersive experiences and storytelling, someone like Disney, they bring worlds alive in ways that were previously unimaginable. Just read the comments on this video showing the ‘Avatar Flight of Passage’ ride on YouTube. Reminder, these were people sitting on suped-up arcade horses in front of a big screen, wearing 3D glasses.
This is art.
Disney invests in delivering an experience to its customers. They do everything they can to ensure each and every visitor to the park is completely immersed in the feeling of being there, in their world. No detail goes unaccounted for; no actor in the park is not a part of the illusion.
So, why would they do anything less for their Disney+ viewers?
Disney could deliver an HD movie to your home and you would be quite satisfied. But that isn’t the Disney way. The magic must happen, even in your home. Disney is unique among its peers in defaulting to 4K for much of its content, at no extra cost to the consumer. That fluid, crisp 4K image brings Disney’s worlds alive, especially on large screens.
We did the math on Disney’s financial investment in delivering Avengers: Age of Ultron to homes via the Disney+ app. It costs roughly $0.18 more to deliver a 4K version to the home than it does to deliver a perfectly adequate high def version. Eighteen cents. Surely Mickey and friends can afford that. But when you consider binging shows like The Mandalorian and Loki, and multiply it by over a hundred million subscribers, you can see that’s a lot of imperial credits (sorry, those Mon Cal credits are no good here). We doubt Disney ever seriously considered the cheaper path here. Rather, they chose to spend more because they take the experience so seriously.
Why does it cost more? 4K video files are significantly larger, resulting in higher infrastructure costs for Disney and other providers, including storage and CDN transport. Yet larger files are also harder to deliver to customer devices, so even when spending more to deliver them, ensuring they result in a continuous, immersive 4K video stream for viewers is hard to do.
So, with all of that additional investment, how can providers guarantee their users are never pulled out of the experience of watching that super high quality rendition?
Many companies invest in offering download technology, which ensures viewers can be engrossed in a video whether watching on a train or competing for good WiFi at home. At Penthera, we have a team of passionate, smart people who have dedicated themselves to the idea that the experience, the immersion, is super important. We are the industry leaders in premium download technology, which ensures that you can be engrossed in a video on your tablet or phone whether you are on a train or competing for good WiFi at home. But, we continue to innovate with other technology in order to facilitate the same interruption-free experience when streaming.
Our new PlayAssure technology uses real-time caching technology on CTV and mobile devices to help content distributors deliver their 4K experiences without degradation of video quality during the stream. With PlayAssure, great storytellers can deliver their worlds to the homes of families and fans at the highest quality, without breaking the illusion.
Check out PlayAssure at our website and please get in touch if you want to learn more.