Disney is looking into more direct streaming options to bring its movies and TV to consumers directly, the company said yesterday.
Bob Iger, Disney’s CEO, said the company was looking into multiple avenues for streaming options. While its current focus is on BAMTech — the Major League Baseball’s streaming platform Disney bought a $1 billion stake in — for ESPN, there is a chance Disney movies and shows could find an entirely new platform separate from Netflix and Hulu.
“We have to be careful because we have existing agreements and existing relationships and a lot of value still being reaped from the traditional distribution relationships,” Iger said. “But I can tell you that it is our full intent to go out there aggressively with digital offerings direct to the consumer for ESPN and other Disney-branded properties.”
It’s clear Disney isn’t looking to get away from Netflix and Hulu. For one thing, Disney has signed billion dollar deals with Netflix to allow the streaming service be the exclusive home to Disney — and all of its subsidiaries — properties after they’re released from theaters. That means Netflix will be the only pay-for-TV platform to carry movies from Marvel, Lucasfilm, Pixar and Disney instead of HBO or Starz.
Netflix currently has just under 94 million subscribers worldwide, and that’s an audience Disney isn’t going to want to give up anytime soon. Disney recently signed a deal with Hulu to give the streaming platform access to exclusive titles, but considering Disney owns a 30 percent stake in the company, that’s not too surprising.
Last May, following a 6 percent drop in stock after it failed to miss its revenue targets, and streaming analyst Dan Rayburn told Polygon it was only a matter of time before Disney started exploring its own direct-to-consumer streaming options.
“You don't think of Disney in the same sphere as you do streaming sites like Netflix or Amazon," Rayburn said. "No one ever says, 'I'm going to watch that through Disney' and that seems really odd to me. But the landscape is changing and Disney may want to make the move to its own streaming platform eventually.”
Although Iger is pursuing more streaming options, including licensing content to a yet-to-be-announced streaming platform, the CEO also made it pointedly clear the company isn’t going to give up its licensing agreements anytime soon. Disney is preparing to bring some of its programs and television networks to Hulu’s live streaming service, which is launching this year, and the company is still interested in pursuing more traditional distribution relationships.
“We’re still going to have traditional distribution and traditional relationships,” Iger said.
Iger reiterated that Disney was going to aggressively pursue more streaming options, with Iger intent on building up the company’s digital empire, but gave no sign as to when any of this may come to fruition. For now, audiences will still need to go through Netflix, Hulu, iTunes or Disney’s own digital marketplace, Disney Anywhere, to watch the various shows and films.