Breaking up with someone over conference call? That might be the harshest way we’ve heard of. During their earnings report yesterday, Disney revealed that not only will Netflix not be the exclusive carrier of Disney (and all assorted Disney brands, like Marvel and Lucasfilm) movies and shows, they won’t be getting them at all. Disney is taking their ball, going home, and they’re getting ready to charge you to play with it — come 2019, Disney will be operating its own streaming video service.
This is definitely one of those forward-looking statements that execs love to bandy about, so there’s nothing yet in the way of details or how much you’ll need to pay. All we know for now is that Netflix will carry Disney movies, including Marvel, Lucasfilm, and Pixar movies, until the end of 2018. After that, nothing — everything will be on Disney’s service. The new service would also carry shows from Disney channels like Disney Junior, the Disney Channel, and Disney XD.
ESPN will gets its own streaming service next year, although it’ll be a bit limited. The money-making behemoths that are the NFL, NBA, and European soccer leagues might not be included, but subscribers will definitely have access to MLB, NHL, MLS, college sports, and tennis events. An ESPN streaming service has long been thought of as a potential cable buster, but without the NFL and the NBA, its effects on the market will probably be limited.
Some interesting questions remain about the Disney streaming service. Disney owns ABC, as well — it’s unclear whether Disney would include that in the Disney service or make a separate one, in the same vein as CBS All Access and the proposed ESPN service. We’re also left wondering about the current slate of Marvel series, which are co-produced by Netflix. In a statement responding to the news, Netflix indicated that some sort of business relationship will survive, “including our ongoing relationship with Marvel TV.” Sounds optimistic, but 2019 is a while from now. Lots could change!