For years, Netflix has looked like an unstoppable streaming force. But everything has a weakness, and Netflix's is its reliance on established studios for its biggest movie titles – and Disney just fired a few proton torpedoes into that particular thermal exhaust port, announcing it is pulling its movies from the service.
This means by 2019, Netflix will have a sizable mouse hole to fill and you can be sure that this is only the start.
In what was an obvious move, Disney announced in August it 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.
In what was an even more obvious move, Disney has confirmed that - in the US at least - it will be removing Star Wars and Marvel movies from Netflix and also adding these to its new service.
It's clear what Disney is doing. It 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.
To do this, though, it needs the streaming technology. Enter BAMTech. Last year (opens in new tab) 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, if Disney chooses to do this, 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 flavor 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 show.
Now, that would be a Force to be reckoned with.
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