Netflix didn’t have much time to enjoy being the exclusive, post-theatrical release home of Disney movies before Disney decided to part ways and launch its own stand-alone streaming service.
When Disney announced in August that it would remove all of its theatrical releases from Netflix by 2019, Netflix executives didn’t say much. During an investor’s interview yesterday, however, CEO Reed Hastings and chief of content, Ted Sarandos, finally addressed Disney’s departure.
Hastings admitted that, although the Disney brand — and the films that Disney produces — is significant, it’s not a major part of Netflix’s growth plan. Instead, the streaming service is focusing on developing content for international territories, and Hastings pointed out that Disney’s international offering through Netflix isn’t big enough to make its departure a concern.
“Disney is a great brand with great content but internationally we only have it in the Netherlands, Australia and Canada,” Hastings said. “You saw how big our international growth was in most of the world without the Disney content. So although it’s got an enormously significant brand, in terms of its significance relative to growth, you can see that we’ve done very well in international without it.”
Sarandos feels similarly, although he said that Netflix would be “thrilled to partner with [Disney] when they’re ready to.” Sarandos said this is all part of an ongoing trend that he’s seeing other studios and networks work toward. Instead of linking up with a platform like Netflix to distribute their content, studios and networks — like CBS does with All Access, or HBO with HBO Now — are launching their own competing services.
“I think that everyone is going to have their own strategies and it’s exciting that everyone is trying to make over-the-top (OTT) television better and better,” Sarandos said. “I think that is good for all of us. And we just have to worry about creating content that our members can’t live without and get excited about every month. Whether or not one of our partners decide to produce for us or compete with us, that’s really a choice they have to make based on their own business.”
Disney CEO Bob Iger spoke more about the company’s streaming service, which will be released in 2019, during a conference in Los Angeles. Iger said that Disney had a “very rich treasure trove of content for this app," according to a report from CNBC, adding that the company was “going to launch big, and we're going to launch hot.” Along with the sole rights to movies from Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm (Star Wars), the service will host four or five exclusive, Disney-produced shows, along with some films from studios other than Marvel and Lucasfilm.
Movies from both Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm will remain on Netflix until Jan. 1, 2019.