The Walt Disney Company has decided to go solo with its branded direct-to-consumer streaming service, starting 2019. This strategic shift means that Disney will pull out its content from Netflix. “Disney will end its distribution agreement with Netflix for subscription streaming of new releases, beginning with the 2019 calendar year theatrical slate,” informed the statement from the company. The announcement comes to light after The Walt Disney Company acquired majority ownership of BAMTech in a bid to launch its ESPN-branded multi-sport video streaming service in early 2018. Disney paid $1.58 billion to acquire an additional 42% stake in BAMTech, direct-to-consumer streaming technology and marketing services, data analytics, and commerce management — from MLBAM — the interactive media and Internet company of Major League Baseball. Disney had previously acquired a 33% stake in BAMTech under an agreement that included an option to acquire a majority stake over several years.
“The media landscape is increasingly defined by direct relationships between content creators and consumers, and our control of BAMTech’s full array of innovative technology will give us the power to forge those connections, along with the flexibility to quickly adapt to shifts in the market,” said Robert A Iger, chairman and CEO, The Walt Disney Company.
He further said that the acquisition and the launch of its direct-to-consumer services marks an entirely new growth strategy for the company to leverage the strength of its brands, and take advantage of the opportunity that changing technology provides. The new Disney-branded service will host in the US for SVoD of its newest live action and animated movies from Disney and Pixar, beginning with the 2019 theatrical slate, which includes Toy Story 4, Frozen’s sequel and The Lion King. The company will also make a significant investment in an annual slate of original movies, TV shows, short-form content and other branded exclusives for its VoD service.
Additionally, the service will feature a vast collection of library content, including Disney and Pixar movies and Disney Channel, Disney Junior and Disney XD television programming. It was in 2016 that the contract between Netflix and Disney came into effect with Netflix holding the exclusive US rights to Disney’s films. The deal also included Marvel, Lucasfilm and Pixar subsidiaries.