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Disney’s stand-alone streaming service won’t compete with Netflix in scale

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Quality over quantity

Captain America and Black Panther in the Super Bowl trailer for Avengers: Infinity War. Marvel Studios/Disney

Disney is gearing up to launch its stand-alone streaming service next year, but don’t expect the platform to compete with Netflix in volume.

Disney CEO Bob Iger addressed questions during an investors call about the stand-alone service, which will include a combination of archived Disney titles and new titles from the company’s biggest brands. Although the service is planning to launch with four series from some of Disney’s most popular brands — Star Wars, Monster Inc., Marvel Studios and High School Musical — don’t expect there to be the high quantity of selection that services like Netflix or Hulu (a company that Disney will own a majority stake in once its deal with 21st Century Fox is approved) provide.

Iger said subscribers are expecting the streaming service to be “populated by Disney, Marvel, Pixar and Star Wars product.” With so many big-name studios and franchises under its belt, Iger said Disney can spend less on quantity and worry more about branding.

“We have an opportunity to spend more on original product, but not necessarily to go into the volume direction that Netflix has gone because we have this unique brand,” Iger said.

Iger added that just because Disney has “the ability to spend less on volume is not to suggest that we’re going to be low” on titles. There will be a number of original TV series and films, along with popular films from each franchise, to satiate subscribers’ appetites. The CEO announced today that Disney is working on “a few” Star Wars series that will remain exclusive to the streaming service.

One of the bigger questions Iger addressed during the call focused on Netflix’s slate of Disney movies. Disney and Netflix announced last year that its landmark streaming deal will expire by the end of 2019, but not all films will leave the platform immediately.

“The Netflix output deal expires with the ’18 slate,” Iger said. “They will have rights to the films that were made in ’16, ’17, ’18 for quite a long period of time thereafter, with a window for us to use them ourselves that falls within the period of time [...] where they’ll have those rights. The films that our studio makes in 2019 and beyond will be self-licensed, or licensed to our own platform, and that will include Marvel, Pixar, Disney and Lucasfilm films.”

It will be a few years yet before Disney’s stand-alone streaming service is the exclusive home for Disney titles. The service, which doesn’t have a name at this time, will be released in late 2019 for an undetermined cost. Iger previously said it will cost “substantially” less than Netflix’s standard $10.99-per-month subscription.