“‘The Mandalorian’ is hugely important because it’s probably the biggest entertainment property right now,” Zak Shaikh, vice president of programming and entertainment at research-based media firm Magid, told CNN Business. “It’s like how ‘Game of Thrones’ was vital to HBO.”
Shaikh noted that “The Mandalorian” is No. 1 in Magid’s biweekly study that looks at how engaged viewers are with a particular show. It outranks other series, including “This Is Us” and “Stranger Things.”
“It shows how old intellectual property can continuously be refreshed,” he said.
The show’s popularity offers an opportunity to cash in on other fronts, most notably merchandising, after the studio appeared to leave lots of money on the table last holiday season because of a lack of products tied to the “Star Wars” series.
Part of that had to do with a stated desire not to spoil the show’s “Baby Yoda” surprise, but Disney clearly looks intent on rectifying that this fall: A quick visit to its ShopDisney website finds 160 available items, with everything from toys and apparel to cufflinks and bedspreads.
“I don’t think there’s any single character creating more revenue in a toy aisle than ‘Baby Yoda,'” Gerrick Johnson, a toy industry analyst at BMO Capital Markets, told CNN Business. “You need the right buzz, you need the right excitement and I think things are falling pretty perfectly for ‘Baby Yoda’ right here.”
Like any individual streaming offering, ascertaining the precise value of something like “The Mandalorian” is hard to measure. But the benefits to Disney+ go beyond just motivating people to subscribe.
“I don’t know that it’s revamped it, but rather shown that there are perhaps some stories within the Star Wars galaxy better suited to televisual storytelling forms,” Suzanne Scott, an associate professor at the University of Texas’ Moody College of Communication, told CNN Business.
Scott added that live-action Star Wars TV series “have always been in perpetual development, but difficult to get off the ground.”
“Hopefully its success will make Disney slightly more willing to take risks with a franchise that, for many fans, has grown rather stagnant and predictable,” she said. A limited series featuring Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi — reprising his role from the prequels — is in the works.
But according to Shaikh, Disney+’s galaxy is bigger than just the one far, far away.
“As successful as it is, I don’t think any streaming service survives off of one hit, no matter how great it is,” he said. “Disney+’s success is due to many factors, including brand recognition and an exceptional library.”