For years, Netflix has looked like an unstoppable streaming force. But everything has a weakness and Disney's just fired a couple of proton torpedoes squarely into Netflix's with the announcement that it's pulling its movies from the service.
This means by 2019, Netflix will have a sizeable Mouse-shaped hole to fill and you can be sure that this is only the start.
In what’s an obvious move, Disney will launch its own streaming service and open up its vast archive of Disney films and TV shows. That’s a lot of entertainment to mine with over 70 years of movies and TV shows the company can now put into its own Mouse House.
But that’s just the start. Disney’s IP is staggering, over a few short years it has bought up the rights to Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Marvel – there are simply no bigger franchises out there.
In an earnings call, Disney CEO Bob Iger said it is "discussing and debating" what will happen with its Marvel and Star Wars properties. These are more complex to untangle given Netflix’s deal with Disney over certain Marvel characters, but it doesn’t take superhero senses to understand what is going on here.
Disney wants its own Netflix, a place where all of its content can reside and be streamed for a monthly fee that goes straight into its own coffers.
It’s already doing this in app form. Its UK-only Disney Life app is a place for many of its kids content, coupled with games, songs and story books. There are hundreds of films, and thousands of TV episodes available on there for a monthly fee.
It's also available on your TV too if you use Chromecast or Apple TV. But a dedicated TV streaming service will open up this content and much more to a wider, global audience.
To do this, though, it needs the streaming technology. Enter BAMTech. Last year Disney pumped $1 billion into the company that currently powers its ESPN streaming app. This week, it added another $1.58 billion and now it owns 75% of the company.
While Iger said it was thinking about doing a streaming service for both its Star Wars and Marvel franchises, it’s more than likely that they will be integrated at some point into this new streaming service.
It’s likely it would eventually take the TV channel bundle approach that Sky offers currently in the UK, offering sport (ESPN), Disney, Marvel and Star Wars channeled content for varying prices.
However it chooses to do it, its model will be watched carefully by other big distributors. While no one else currently has the IP might of Disney, we are already seeing this stream-based channel approach adopted by Netflix’s other big rival, Amazon.
Its Amazon Channels service has pre-empted the carving up of content, offering a place where you can stream dedicated channels from the likes of HBOGo, MGM, cult UK distributor Arrow Video and the Discovery Channel.
Netflix is savvy though. It’s preparing itself for the worst by buying up its own IP – this week it acquired Millarworld – and there will be plenty more of these deals. It has also had great success with its own properties, though many of these have a Marvel flavour to them.
Disney’s move into streaming may be obvious but this shouldn’t detract from how much of a shift it could be for the industry.
2019 is a significant year for Disney. It will launch its own Disney-branded streaming service but it’s also when the final part of the main Star Wars saga will be release – Episode IX is in cinemas May, 2019.
What better time to announce your brand-new Star Wars streaming service that will exclusively house a Star Wars TV shows.
Now, that would be a Force to be reckoned with.
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