Well that didn’t last long. Back in 2012, Disney struck a pretty huge deal with Netflix to provide new releases exclusively to the streaming service. But in an earnings call today, Disney CEO Bob Iger announced that Disney will discontinue this practice in favor of launching its own streaming service in 2019, which will host a cadre of Disney movies and Disney-owned television series aimed at kids.
The 2012 deal ensured that new Disney, Marvel, Pixar, and Lucasfilm movies would be heading to Netflix in short order after release, and indeed films like Moana, Captain America: Civil War, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story are on the streaming service right now. But starting in 2019, new releases will head directly to Disney’s new streaming service instead of Netflix, which means you’re not getting Star Wars: Episode IX or Captain Marvel on Netflix.
The news comes along with word that Disney is acquiring a majority of BAMTech, the streaming technology company owned by Major League Baseball, for a whopping $1.58 billion. They’ll be using this technology to not only launch the Disney streaming service in 2019, but also an ESPN streaming service early next year.
It’s unclear how this impacts the current library of titles. Netflix licenses the movies it hosts, so it’s possible that the licenses for new Disney movies through 2018 extend beyond 2019 and you’ll still be able to watch things like The Jungle Book or Inside Out even after Disney launches its streaming service. Or it’s possible those licenses will expire and will depart sometime before or shortly after Disney’s new streaming service launches.
While this is a bummer for Netflix subscribers, it’s a pretty brilliant business move by Iger and Disney. Launching an all-Disney streaming service that offers your children a variety of Disney films and TV will no doubt be popular, and it’ll be interesting to see how competitive they’ll get with pricing.
Moreover, since Disney owns everything from Pixar to Marvel to Lucasfilm, there really will be something for everybody. Well, unless you’re a cinephile looking for dramas or classic film, although in that case Netflix also falls way short. FilmStruck is currently the best option for streaming classic films, but access to classic cinema is still far more limited than new releases or genre titles.