A subscription to Disney’s stand-alone streaming service will be “substantially cheaper” than Netflix, Disney CEO Bob Iger said today.
Iger spoke at length about the streaming service, which still doesn’t have an official name, during an investor’s call. Few details were revealed — save for an announcement that four live-action series based on Disney properties (Star Wars, High School Musical, Monsters, Inc. and Marvel) are in development and will be exclusive to the streaming platform. Iger did take a few minutes to speak out pricing and content on the network, which is expected to launch in 2019.
“We’ve given a lot of thought to pricing,” Iger said. “I can’t get specific with you yet, because we haven’t determined it yet. It will be substantially below Netflix because we’ll have substantially less volume.”
It was previously reported that Disney would launch its streaming service with “500 films from the Disney library ... in addition to around 7,000 episodes of Disney TV.” To compare, Netflix had 4,335 movies and 1,197 TV series in 2016, according to a report from AllFlicks. That’s an offering of less than 25 percent of what Netflix offers on the film side, and substantially less television episodes.
Iger addressed those concerns during the call, reiterating that production on content for the streaming service was expected to ramp up in time as more subscribers join the network. Part of the reason the cost of a subscription will be less than Netflix — or other competition in the $7-10 per month price range — is because Disney won’t be able to offer the same volume of content.
“I don’t want to say we’re going to walk before we run,” Iger said, adding that Disney was planning an aggressive launch next year, “but production will ramp up over time with spending.”
That means pricing will also increase over time. Iger said that once production starts to increase and more titles are added to the network, the pricing will reflect those changes. Iger’s comments bear a resemblance to Netflix’s own pricing strategies. Netflix’s CEO, Reed Hastings, addressed a recent price hike during the company’s last investors call, noting that pricing is all related to value.
“We’re continuing to increase the content offering and we’re seeing that reflected in viewing around the world,” Hastings said.
Iger didn’t speculate as to when those pricing increases could happen, nor did he address how Disney plans to build up its volume of content outside of original series and films. A recent report from CNBC suggested that Disney held prior talks to purchase a large majority of 21st Century Fox, including the rights to film properties such as the X-Men and TV series like Futurama. Iger wouldn’t comment on those reports, but did address the question of licensing content from other studios and networks.
“We’re not ruling out licensing third-party content provided the product fits within the Disney brand,” Iger said, reiterating that the streaming service would be Disney-branded and carry the Disney name. That means the majority of the content on the platform will be Disney original series — or content from a subsidiary company — and appropriate for all ages. Movies or TV shows that exist just outside of that rating (nothing will be R-rated, Iger said) can be filtered, if parents wish.
More information about the service is expected to be announced in the new year, according to Iger. It’s slated to be released sometime in 2019.