Disney Chooses Netflix As Its Exclusive Distributor Beginning In 2016
from the mouse-in-the-house dept
Shock generally isn't an emotion I feel when I come across a story to write for Techdirt. Anger? Sure. Sadness? Of course. Dismay? You know it. But not shock. I can't say that's true in this instance. Recall two recent stories we’ve had about Netflix. The first is a piece I wrote about Disney opting out of their Netflix streaming deal, resulting in so-called Disney knock-offs to spring up to fill the void. The second is a story Leigh Beadon covered in which one television analyst somehow looked at parents having the ability to provide their children with more entertainment choices via Netflix and decided that was a bad thing, urging companies like Disney to veer away from Netflix altogether.
It would appear that Disney is now reversing course and embracing the ever-living hell out of Netflix as the future of its distribution model.
If you’re a Netflix subscriber and you have kids, you’re about to make those kids happier. Netflix and Disney just inked a new deal, making the former the exclusive American subscription TV service for “first-run live-action and animated feature films from The Walt Disney Studios.”
This marks the first time that a major Hollywood studio decided to side with a digital distribution rather than a traditional TV provider. The deal is also a high-water mark for a company that some were speculating was ripe for takeover as recently as last month.
According to the press release by Netflix, Disney's releases, and those of its subsidiaries (including, presumably, LucasFilm), will be available on all platforms beginning in 2016. Ostensibly, this would include Netflix's streaming platform, which is a break from Disney's previous dropping of streaming through NetFlix. Perhaps even more impressive, Disney is releasing at least a portion of their back catalog through NetFlix as well, as early as this coming year.
The article goes on to note that if you think this is a dagger in the heart for pay-TV, there's still another massive hurdle to leap.
“The pay TV business as we know it is on really safe grounds until sports distribution changes,” Cryan added. “It’s technically difficult to distribute that stuff online at scale. In addition to that, the business is stacked up so you pay a lot for ESPN and other sports channels not available elsewhere. Until that changes, the core of the pay TV business is on relatively safe ground.”
Now, I happen to think that sports streaming isn’t the challenge Dan Cryan makes it out to be, but he's right that the barrier is still there and it's massive. Still, keep in mind that ESPN, unfortunately the king of cable sports, is a Disney owned operation. If the house of mouse is beginning to shift the aim of its movie distribution towards a digital provider, it isn't a huge leap to bring sports streaming along with it.