Marvel And Star Wars Films To Move From Netflix To New Disney OTT Service
Films from Marvel and Star Wars that now go to Netflix will move to Disney’s planned ad-free direct-to-consumer streaming service, CEO Bob Iger said today at an investor gathering.
“We’re going to launch big, and we’re going to launch hot” by late 2019, he told the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2017 Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference. He expects to include four or five original series, and three or four Disney-branded movies per year on the new service.
No word yet on pricing although he says “we intend to get more specific about that in the months ahead.”
The fate of the Marvel and Star Wars films was the main question left hanging early last month when Iger announced his plan to offer direct to consumer services for Disney and Pixar productions, and for ESPN.
The ESPN offering will be available this spring with 10,000 sporting events not on the linear channel.
Over time “this will be a sports marketplace platform” similar to iTunes, he says. Users will be able to “buy almost on an a la carte basis” sports and events that interest them.
“The goal eventually is to create something that the sports fan can use to design what the sports experience will be,” he says.
Disney CEO Bob Iger Says Marvel, 'Star Wars' Movies Will Be on Streaming Service
The exec also revealed a launch date for the planned Disney and ESPN apps and said his studio would produce some TV series and movies for the Disney streaming service. Disney CEO Bob Iger on Thursday said his studio will start its direct-to-consumer streaming service in late 2019, with Marvel and Star Wars movies on the upcoming app.
The 2019 launch will allow Disney to pull the Marvel and Star Wars movies from Netflix in two years, allowing them to migrate to the Disney-branded app. The Hollywood studio last month said it will be pulling its movies from Netflix and will launch an ad-free streaming service of its own in 2019.
Iger also told the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2017 Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference in Los Angeles that the studio will produce four to five original films for exclusive use on the planned Disney app, mostly live action.
And around 500 films from the Disney library will show up on the direct-to-consumer platform, in addition to around 7,000 episodes of Disney TV fare.
"It will have the entire output of the studio, animation, live action at Disney, including Pixar, Star Wars and all the Marvel films," Iger said. The Disney-branded app will also include around four to five original TV series, and the studio will produce three to four TV movies for the direct-to-consumer offering.
Also on the TV side, recent seasons of Disney TV series will appear on the platform, in addition to short-form content from the major studio. "You have to think of the Disney app as a traditional SVOD service," Iger told investors, without specifying a monthly fee for what he added was a "treasure trove" of Disney-branded content.
Iger added the separate ESPN app, also intended as a direct-to-consumer offering, will launch in spring 2018. "If you're a big sporting fan, it will be one app," he added.
The planned ESPN app will include Major League Baseball games, NHL games, pro tennis and a slew of college sports events. "It will be 10,000 live sports events in the first year," Iger forecast.
Disney in August said it had acquired a large stake in Major League Baseball's streaming technology business, BAMTech, to get into the direct-to-consumer space.
The entertainment and media conglomerate agreed to acquire a 33 percent stake in BAMTech for $1 billion. BAMTech powers streaming services for several sports and media companies.
In August, Iger touted the growing opportunity for direct-to-consumer services but didn't have many specifics to share about the planned streaming service's pricing and the like beyond saying that the company would also invest in original content for it.
Disney in August also said it would launch a streaming service for its sports juggernaut ESPN.
Iger's employment contract runs through mid-2019. No successor has been named. By Wall Street consensus, no internal candidate has emerged as a clear heir apparent since Disney jettisoned Iger's original favorite, Tom Staggs, in 2015.
Several internal names have been mentioned as possible successors. Ben Sherwood, who serves as co-chair of Disney Media Networks and president of Disney/ABC Television, oversees a key profit center. Bob Chapek, who chairs Disney's parks and resorts, has broad experience and also appears to have Iger's trust. James Pitaro, the head of consumer products and interactive media, has digital experience, having served as head of Yahoo Media. And CFO Christine McCarthy has been working closely with Iger but lacks operational experience.
‘Star Wars,’ Marvel Films Moving From Netflix to Disney Streaming Service
Disney CEO Bob Iger on Thursday delivered a blow to Netflix, saying the company had decided to move Marvel and “Star Wars” films to its forthcoming streaming service, set to launch in 2019.
The announcement ends speculation about what would happen to the Marvel and Lucasfilm titles currently being streamed on Netflix. When the Walt Disney Company announced last month that it would launch a Disney-branded direct-to-consumer streaming service, Iger said Disney and Pixar movies on Netflix would move to the planned streaming service.
“We’ve now decided we will put the Marvel and ‘Star Wars’ movies on this app as well,” Iger said during a question-and-answer session at Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media’s communications and entertainment conference held at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.
Iger also narrowed the time frame when the Disney streaming service will launch, saying he expects it will go live in late 2019. The announcement of a streaming platform signaled Disney felt ready to compete in the digital streaming space that Netflix has dominated in recent years. Netflix has been ramping up its original offerings in an effort to reduce its dependency on licensing content like Disney hits “Zootopia,” “Finding Dory,” and “Rogue One.”
Shortly after Disney announced its plans, Netflix hit back by poaching ABC Television hitmaker Shonda Rhimes in an exclusive overall deal. Rhimes, the “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal” creator, has spent more then a decade at Disney’s ABC. The development came amid negotiations between Disney and Netflix over the streaming rights to Marvel and Lucasfilm titles.
Iger offered a few more details Thursday about its streaming service, saying Disney plans to produce four or five original movies per year, as well as an equal number of original series and TV movies. A price for the subscription has not yet been announced.
Investors didn’t seem to be cheered by Iger’s announcement. Disney shares were down about 4% in midday trading after the news broke, on what has so far been a down day overall for the Dow and S&P 500 indexes.
Netflix shares, on the other hand, were not hurt by the Disney news, nor did they see a bounce. Shares were up about 30 cents, or less than 1%, in midday trading.