Walt Disney Company announced that it’s launching a direct-to-consumer streaming service in 2019. The service will hold exclusive rights to Pixar films and animated features from Walt Disney Studios. The fate of Star Wars films and content from Marvel remains uncertain.
A statement from the company read, “With this strategic shift, Disney will end its distribution agreement with Netflix for subscription streaming of new releases, beginning with the 2019 calendar year theatrical slate.”
The streaming service will have original Disney-created content much like Netflix does with Orange Is the New Black, House of Cards, and 13 Reasons Why. Disney has already announced several upcoming movies that will be available on the platform, such as Toy Story 4, the sequel to Frozen, and a live-action Lion King.
The Entertainment giant is still mulling options for its content for more mature audiences.
The new streaming service will undoubtedly appeal to children, but it’s unclear if Disney will attempt to woo older consumers. During a quarterly call with shareholders, Robert A. Iger, chairman and chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Company, discussed several possibilities.
“We have had a discussion internally about how best to bring them to the consumer,” he said. “It’s possible we will continue to license them to a pay service like Netflix, but it’s premature to say exactly what we will do.”
The surprising announcement also revealed plans for a more robust ESPN streaming service.
Walt Disney Company operates the popular sports media conglomerate and hopes to bolster its streaming services with even more content. In the same press release announcing a Disney streaming platform, the company announced new plans for an enhanced ESPN app.
Disney plans for a 2018 launch of an ESPN-branded streaming service that features “approximately 10,000 live regional, national, and international games and events a year, including Major League Baseball, National Hockey League, Major League Soccer, Grand Slam tennis, and college sports.” The service will also contain news, highlights, scores, and other content.
Netflix has no shortage of original content, but the loss of Disney films still stings.
Netflix has long prided itself on offering the best selection of streaming movies. However, their catalog has steadily shrunk as new streaming ventures pop up and offer competition. The new Disney streaming service will test the strength of Netflix’s children’s programming if not the business as a whole.
The news from Disney caused Netflix’s stock to drop about five percent after the announcement. While the news rattled investors, Netflix remains confident in their content. A Netflix spokesperson told Buzzfeed News, “US Netflix members will have access to Disney films on the service through the end of 2019, including all new films that are shown theatrically through the end of 2018.”
Even if Netflix lost all of their third-party content, they would still have a subscription-worthy catalog. The service’s original content garnered 91 Emmy nominations this year, which is second only to HBO’s 110. Of course, subscribers hope that Netflix can hang on to as many quality movies as possible, but they’ll still tune in for original shows like Stranger Things and Master of None.