Tagged: Disney

Disney will launch its streaming service without its biggest brands fully on board

Disney is serious about establishing itself in the streaming video space. Unfortunately, the long-anticipated streaming service it launches next year is going to have a bit of a slow start, given that many titles from some of Disney’s biggest brands — well, don’t bother looking for them on the service, not at first.

(Of course, Disney hopes you’ll sign up anyway.)

On the company’s earnings call with analysts Tuesday, Disney CEO Bob Iger made it clear the service will be missing key titles from brands like Marvel, Lucasfilm and Pixar when it launches late next year. Iger said Disney’s hope is that its 2019 release slate is so strong, though, with movies like Avengers 4 and Captain Marvel as well as original series, that people who sign up won’t notice or be too put off by the lack of earlier titles.

“I don’t want to say walk before we run because it’s not quite that,” Iger said. “There’s going to be a fair amount of running going on. We want to make sure we’re managing expectations … But it’s also one of the reasons why we’re creating a fair amount of original content for it as well, original Star Wars series, original Pixar series, original Marvel series and so on. And some original films as well because it’s clear that from a library perspective while there is certainly a lot of volume, the recent studio slate will not fully be available at any one-time because of the existing deals and it would take time for those rights ultimately to revert back to us.”

To get a sense of why Disney won’t have key pieces of its content lineup accessible via the streaming service at launch, remember that the company sold streaming rights to Disney movies to Netflix, an arrangement which got under way two years ago. Starz also has licensed Disney movies, and Turner Broadcasting is home to old Star Wars titles through 2024.

Disney is reportedly going to let its deal with Netflix expire at the end of this year. But other complications remain. Disney had been in talks with Turner about buying back the TV rights to the old Star Wars titles, but things have apparently hit a wall. A source told Bloomberg that Turner would expect to get “financial considerations and programming to replace the lost films.”

Star Wars, of course, ranks among the most lucrative franchises in Hollywood. “Disney,” Bloomberg notes, “sold certain rights to Turner in 2016, before it completed plans for the streaming service. The company has released four new Star Wars films since it acquired LucasFilm in 2012, and plans to release another in December 2019. Turner paid about $275 million for the six Star Wars movies released between 1977 and 2005, plus the newer titles.”

Disney hasn’t said yet how much it will charge for the new service, just that, per Iger, the price will reflect the size of the library. As Iger told analysts, “What we want to do is we want to make sure when we launch it is viewed as a quality product that we’re serving the fans, particularly of Marvel, Pixar, Disney and Star Wars well, and that the price that we’re charging reflects the value that we’re delivering. We’ve mentioned a number of times that we have the luxury of programming this product with programs from those brands or derived from those brands, which obviously creates a demand and gives us the ability to not necessarily be in the volume game, but to be in the quality game.

“And that’s not in any way suggesting that Netflix isn’t in the quality game. There’s a lot of quality there, but they’re also in the high volume game. And we don’t really need to do that.”

‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’ will be the final Marvel movie to stream on Netflix

Alongside all of the original Marvel shows that Netflix produces, Marvel’s blockbuster films have been appearing on the streaming service as well in recent years. But with the launch of Disney’s own streaming service right around the corner, that’s going to change. The New York Times reports that every film Walt Disney Studios releases from March 2019 onward, starting with Captain Marvel, will hit Disney’s service instead of Netflix.

In other words, when Ant-Man and the Wasp eventually makes its way to Netflix later this year, it will signal the end of an era for Marvel movies on the world’s most popular streaming platform. It’s unclear when or if the movies that have already arrived on Netflix (Thor: Ragnarok, Doctor Strange) will be removed.

This is an enormous bummer for Marvel fans who subscribe to Netflix, but Disney will need as many bullets in its chamber as possible to compete in a market that has become increasingly saturated in recent years. The good news is that a Disney spokeswoman told the Times that there are “no current plans” to move the Marvel shows (Daredevil, Luke Cage) from Netflix, but in the coming years, that could begin to look like an appealing option.

Disney has yet to provide any specific details about the service, from pricing to name to release timing, but based on sporadic reports like these, it’s clear that the company is going to ensure that it has a sizable library ready to roll out on day one (even if it will be missing some of its biggest blockbusters while it works out deals).