Disney+ is company’s ‘biggest priority’ in 2019 in battle with Netflix and Amazon
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Disney+ is company’s ‘biggest priority’ in 2019 in battle with Netflix and Amazon

The Disney+ streaming video-on-demand service launching later this year had already been described as the “biggest priority of the company during calendar 2019” by Walt Disney Company chairman and CEO Robert Iger.

A remarkable statement, given…

It was a remarkable statement when he said it in 2018 but perhaps even more so now, given that Disney closed its $71 billion takeover of 21st Century Fox within the past 36 hours.

The impact on the Netflix share price

As the Disney/Fox deal closed, Netflix’s share price rose by 4.6%.


Fortune.com wrote that “any threat from a Disney-Fox combination has long been priced in to the stock”, “Netflix has been preparing for years for Disney to pull its content from Netflix’s library” and referred to “the groundwork Netflix has laid in overseas markets during the past several years”.

Netflix: central to the story…

As Disney ends its streaming deal with Netflix – most of its content will be gone from the platform by late 2019 – Disney+ will be the exclusive home for every Disney film. Iger said earlier this month:

At some point fairly soon after launch, (Disney+ will stream films that) traditionally have been kept in a ‘vault’ and brought out basically every few years.

Also, Disney recently named Tehmina Jaffer as Senior VP of Business Affairs, overseeing content on the new service. Jaffer had been Netflix’s director of original series, helping to drive strategy for series such as 13 Reasons Why, Narcos and Maniac.

The market’s growing…

The streaming market is growing quickly. Other major over-the-top (OTT) services available now or coming soon are owned by:

  • NBCUniversal
  • DC Entertainment
  • WarnerMedia, a wholly owned subsidiary and division of AT&T which also encompasses HBO
  • Apple

And in the UK, BritBox will soon be online, expected to be available at some point in the second half of 2019.

…and there’s plenty of room:

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings isn’t concerned by the new wave of competition because US consumers spend a billion hours a day watching video:

They (Disney) have great content. We’re excited for their launch, and maybe they grow over a couple years to 50 million hours a day, but that’s out of the billion.

Iger said:

(Disney’s brands) obviously create a demand and (that) gives us the ability to not necessarily be in the volume game, but to be in the quality game.

A neutral voice, Alice Enders, head of research at Enders Analysis, commented:

Disney is no Netflix but Disney needed Fox to some degree to launch a competitor service that has a chance to succeed in the US.

What’s next?

Disney will hold an investor meeting on April 11, when it’s expected to reveal many of the specifics about Disney+, including a “first look” at some of the programming, which will include original behind-the-scenes documentaries.

The service will include shows and movies such as

  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars new season
  • Marvel movies, starting with 2019’s Captain Marvel
  • Star Wars: Episode 9
  • Pixar films, starting with 2019’s Toy Story 4
  • A live-action, big-budget Star Wars TV series called The Mandalorian
  • A Star Wars Rogue One prequel TV series
  • A live-action Marvel series focused on Avengers character Loki
  • An animated series based on Pixar’s Monsters Inc.
  • A 10-episode series, Diary of a Female President, about a 12-year-old Cuban-American girl
  • A documentary about Walt Disney Imagineering
  • A live-action Lady and the Tramp remake
  • A Sword in the Stone remake
  • Noelle, a movie starring Anna Kendrick
  • Togo, a movie starring Willem Dafoe
  • A Three Men and a Baby remake
  • A High School Musical series

Hulu and ESPN+ will run on the same tech platform as Disney+, meaning subscribers can use the same password and credit card information across all three services, but Disney plans for all three to be individual subscriptions. The price of Disney+ hasn’t been announced but it’s expected to be less than a Netflix subscription.