Disney has acquired a majority stake in a streaming video company, and is set to launch its own streaming service, cutting ties with Netflix.
The Mouse House had previously struck a deal with Netflix to distribute its theatrical releases, but will instead take care of that themselves, beginning with its 2019 slate of films (which includes "Toy Story 4," "Frozen 2," and the live-action "The Lion King" remake). It's unclear when the Disney, Marvel, and Pixar films that are currently streaming on Netflix will be removed.
Though Disney had been rumored to be considering starting its own streaming service for some time, it moved quickly on that plan in recent days after an earnings report showed a drop in revenue compared to this time in 2016. While last year saw Disney boast $7 billion in box office receipts, the 2017 theatrical slate has been considerably less lucrative, and the company has been plagued by a rash of cord-cutters from its cable channel offerings, where it earns the majority of its revenue.
In response, the Mouse House bought up the majority of BAMTech, and will launch an ESPN streaming service in 2018, and a Disney streaming service in 2019. According to Deadline, "The Disney-branded service will be 'the exclusive home in the U.S. for subscription-video-on-demand viewing of the newest live action and animated movies from Disney and Pixar.'" In addition to offering existing movies and television shows from the company's extensive library, the service will also produce "original movies, TV shows, short-form content and other Disney-branded exclusives."
Variety reports that those services will "be available for purchase directly from Disney and ESPN, in app stores, and from authorized pay-TV partners."
In a statement, Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger called the move "a strategic shift in the way we distribute our content," and noted the importance of "direct relationships between content creators and consumers."
" ... [O]ur control of BAMTech's full array of innovative technology will give us the power to forge those connections, along with the flexibility to quickly adapt to shifts in the market," Iger continued. "This acquisition and the launch of our direct-to-consumer services mark an entirely new growth strategy for the Company, one that takes advantage of the incredible opportunity that changing technology provides us to leverage the strength of our great brands."
Stay tuned for more details.