Skip to main content

Disney Stock: Is 'Hawkeye's' Slow Start a Red Flag?

The Disney+ streaming service’s latest Marvel show gets a soft reception.

Are people finally starting to get Marveled out?

Last week, right before the Thanksgiving break, Disney+ ( (DIS) - Get Walt Disney Company Report) debuted two episodes of “Hawkeye,” the streaming service’s latest Marvel Cinematic Universe entree. 

The first episode reached 1.5 million U.S. households over the first five days, according to Samba TV, while the second one dropped to 1.3 million U.S. households watching.

Altogether, this is a 40% drop from the last live-action MCU offering from Disney+ as “Loki” was watched by 2.5 million households upon its premiere in June. 

Previous MCU shows, which premiered earlier this year on Friday, also had slightly higher viewership, with “WandaVision” reaching 1.6 million homes and “The Falcon And The Winter Soldier” debuted to 1.8 million

“Hawkeye” stars Jeremy Renner as the titular Hawkeye, the seasoned Avenger with a predilection for bows and arrows, as well as Hailee Steinfeld as his protege Kate Bishop.

What Went Wrong?

So why the soft landing? Well, there’s plenty of possible explanations. 

Reviews for the series were generally strong, but some critics definitely seemed to be feeling Marvel fatigue, and that might be translating to more casual viewers. 

TheStreet Recommends

There’s also the matter that by premiering over Thanksgiving, “Hawkeye” had plenty of competition, as some potential viewers may have chosen to go shopping or spend time with their family ... or maybe they went straight to Disney+’s other big holiday offering: Peter Jackson’s much-lauded eight-hour-plus documentary series “The Beatles: Get Back.” 

It also might be unfair to compare any MCU series to “Loki,” since the actor Tom Hiddleston’s portrayal of the character has long been a favorite of Marvel fans, as confirmed by Self-Made Celebs, an analysis of Twitter sentiment that found he was fan’s favorite MCU actor.

Disney's Not Worried

For its part, Disney+ doesn’t seem to be sweating the slowdown in subscriber growth. Disney Chief Executive Bob Chapek, at a Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference in September, predicted an increase by “low single-digit millions of subscribers” for the end of this year, according to Variety

Chapek pointed to the impact of “Covid-induced production delays” for the slowdown in growth, as well as the plain fact that quarter to quarter growth isn’t always predictable, and can vary based on what’s offered at the moment. 

But Chapek pointed to the 61 new movies and 17 series (including numerous Star Wars and Marvel shows) that Disney has in production as proof that there’s plenty of opportunities for a subscriber growth rebound. 

Disney's CEO has said that he expects the company to reach 230 million to 260 million subscribers by the end of fiscal 2024. Reaching that will involve the company spending $8 billion to $9 billion on content in fiscal 2024, according to Chapek's comments in the company's Q4 earnings call. The Mouse House also plans to greatly expand the global footprint of the streaming service.

"And next year, we plan to bring Disney+ to consumers in 50-plus additional countries, including in Central Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and South Africa," Chapek said. "Our goal is to more than double the number of countries we are currently in to over 160 by fiscal year '23."

Disney's stock price at last check was off 0.2% at $144.59