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Disney Play streaming service is company’s biggest priority, CEO says

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Giving up $300M in annual revenue from Netflix as Disney looks to compete

Mickey Mouse at Disney Store in Times Square, New York City Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Disney’s upcoming streaming service finally has a tentative name, and it’s reportedly the company’s number-one priority heading into 2019.

Disney CEO Bob Iger refers to Disney’s streaming service as Disney Play, according to Variety, and the service is geared as a rival to top competitors — mainly Netflix and Amazon. There is another app called Play Disney, which is a mobile game that Disney Parks visitors can play on their phones. It’s unclear if these names will remain the same or change. Details about the streaming service are still scarce, including how much a monthly or potentially annual subscription will cost. Iger has suggested the price will be far less than Netflix’s $8.99 base fee. Iger has also suggested that price point may change as Disney adds more original series and movies to the service.

Launching a streaming service is important to Disney, but it won’t come without its costs. Variety reports that Disney currently earns more than $300 million annually through its licensing deal with Netflix, which will mostly come to an end in 2019. All Disney-distributed films — including Lucasfilm (Star Wars), Marvel and Pixar movies — will move over to Disney Play. The same is true for Disney, Marvel and Lucasfilm TV series. The only series expected to remain on Netflix are the Marvel/Netflix Defenders shows: Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, The Defenders and Luke Cage.

Variety also reports that Disney will lean heavily on its 2019 film slate — Captain Marvel, Toy Story 4, Frozen 2, Star Wars: Episode IX, and live-action remakes of Dumbo and The Lion King — to draw people to Disney Play. The company is also launching a slate of original, made-for-streaming films and a couple of streaming-exclusive series. These series will focus on four key Disney franchises: Star Wars (overseen by Iron Man director Jon Favreau), High School Musical, Monsters, Inc. and an untitled Marvel series. Analysts told Variety that Disney would need approximately 40 million subscribers paying $6 a month to break even on Disney Play.

Disney may rely heavily on exclusivity of its franchises to sell Disney Play subscriptions, but the only thing it can’t promise is the first six Star Wars films. TBS owns the television rights to Episodes I through VI until 2022, at which point they’ll end up on Disney’s streaming service.

Disney Play doesn’t have a launch date at this time, but Iger has said in the past the company is aiming for fall 2019.