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WIRE Buzz: Disney+ projections rocket; Fox's NeXt, Cosmos set for fall; New Mutants PVOD panic

By Jacob Oller
Fox Next TCA 2020 cast

Fans knew, perhaps intuitively, that streaming was getting even bigger thanks to the pandemic that’s kept many members of the population squarely on their sofas for unprecedented amounts of time. The short-term subscription numbers were big. But what does that mean for the future? U.K. company Digital TV Research predicts that things are only going to go up for streamers — especially Disney+.

In a new report, the research firm assessed that Disney+ may use the COVID-19 boost as a steppingstone to challenge titans like Netflix and Amazon in the next five years. “We have completely revised our forecasts for 138 countries in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said principal analyst Simon Murray. “A major impact of lockdown has been a steep rise in SVOD subscriptions.”

While the company does not provide much in the way of metrics for its predictions — like how important the coronavirus pandemic of 2020 will be to Disney+ in 2025 — it positions the Disney streamer right next door to Netflix at the top of the crowd. This future sees Disney+ with 202M subscribers in 2025, next to Netflix’s 258M and China’s disparate 269M subscribers (that won’t be joining Netflix or any other non-Chinese company if current policies remain intact).

These aren’t all crazy predictions, but those Disney+ numbers are massive even compared to the internal forecasts by Disney. The company had previously planned for somewhere between 60-90M subscribers by 2024. Of course, with the service sitting at 54.5M subscribers as of May 4, those numbers needed adjusting. The only question is how these streamers leverage this external jump in audience members for the future.

Next, the coronavirus’ impact is finally going to be felt across the network TV landscape as the companies scramble to fill airtime with programming during a time when few if any productions are still going on. That means Fox, for example, has scheduled previously aired shows like Cosmos: Possible Worlds or long-coming shows like neXt for this coming fall.

Deadline reports that in the network’s newly released programming schedule, the second edition of Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s take on Cosmos — subtitled Possible Worlds — is coming to Fox this fall after airing on Nat Geo earlier this year. Cosmos was going to be Fox’s highbrow, nonfiction counterprogramming to the Olympics, but now that the Olympics have been postponed, Cosmos was free to wait until fall.

NeXt, creator Manny Coto’s killer AI show starring John Slattery, whose SDCC 2019 premiere was attended by SYFY WIRE, had a similar trajectory. It was being held for the end of spring as the pandemic worsened, but as the situation became clear, Fox decided it was best to hold on to it (and other non-genre shows) for a fall that’d otherwise be very light on content. What that meant for the cast of neXt is that their options were extended so that the series could drop in fall.

The report also states that since animation is the one kind of TV production that has been able to adapt (mostly) to the new way of working under the pandemic, Fox may have so many cartoons that it could host a second animation block this fall.

Finally, the X-Men movie lost in the corporate shuffle almost gave fans a heart attack when it briefly popped up with a pre-order listing on Amazon’s premium video-on-demand store last week. 

The New Mutants, the horror-esque superhero film from director/co-writer Josh Boone that places some newcomer heroes — like Wolfsbane (Maisie Williams) and Mirage (Blu Hunt) — in an asylum, was supposed to drop theatrically on April 3 after being delayed. Thanks to the coronavirus, it was delayed again, fueling rumors that Disney was going to drop its new acquisition straight to Disney+ and be done with it. Then it showed up on Amazon’s PVOD store for preorder.

Amazon quickly pulled this listing, which didn’t allow for preorders to actually go through. The listing was apparently automation gone wrong, as the system was looking at the film’s April premiere date for its listing ... not having gotten the memo that these mutants would be twiddling their empowered thumbs just a little while longer.

And it might be a lot longer if sources are to be believed. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the moody Fox/Marvel middle child still has a theatrical release planned — even after it’s been bumped, bruised, and bullied for years at this point.