Morris Esformes Discusses Disney’s Venture into the Streaming Business

Morris Esformes Discusses Disney’s Venture into the Streaming Business

It wasn’t long ago that Disney’s Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger announced that Disney would not only merge with 21st Century Fox, a topic I delve into in my latest blog post “Morris Esformes on Breaking Down the Disney / Fox Merger,”  but that it would also pull all of its licensed films and shows from Netflix to roll out its own streaming service Disney Plus (Disney+), priced at a moderate $7 per month.

Disney’s buyout of 21st Century Fox alone positions the mass media and entertainment conglomerate ahead of its competitors, a small win as it already ranks in the top 10 global conglomerates and number two in media conglomerates, however, its roll out of Disney Plus may just boost the media giant into the number one spot if the platform becomes successful. Currently, Disney has already announced Star Wars and Marvel content that are set to stream at launch of the platform, two media franchises that have garnered a large following over the years, in addition to a slew of Disney classics.

Disney and Its Plans for Disney Plus, Hulu and ESPN

While Disney Plus is the first Disney branded streaming service for the media giant, it also owns two successful, non-Disney branded streaming services: Hulu and ESPN Plus. So, what does this mean for the future of all three services? Disney has already broken it down for the public.

Disney Plus will be a video-based streaming service competing with Netflix, HBO GO, and after its launch, Apple TV Plus. Users of the service will have access to both Disney’s and 21st Century Fox’s licensed content, in addition to new and exclusive series and films, such as the already announced Star Wars series, “The Mandalorian.” The service will be available at $7 per month, half the rate of competitors HBO and Netflix.

Disney has designated Disney Plus as a “family-friendly service” featuring its numerous kid-oriented films and mass audience productions. The list of content brands currently include Disney, Marvel, Lucasfilm (Star Wars), Pixar and National Geographic, in addition to largely watched television series The Simpsons–a win from its merger with Fox.

Hulu will remain its own service and has been designated by Disney as a service for more “adult-oriented fare,” according to a recent article by CNET. To give more background to this type of content, Disney announced that Hulu will stream adult-like animated series from the Marvel collection, and films similar to “Deadpool,” which features a superhero with a twisted sense of humor. Hulu will also continue to stream its widely successful original series The Handmaid’s Tale and Castle Rock, while ESPN Plus will remain focused on its sports streaming services.

Disney’s three streaming options will remain separate, although they will live on the same tech platform, allowing users to access each subscription with the same password and credit card info. However, Disney said in the future it would most likely allow bundling of the three services at a discounted rate.

Morris Esformes: How Disney Plus will Affect the Streaming Market and Disney Content

As I recently discussed in a blog post entitled “Morris Esformes Discusses Netflix and Its Role in Advancing the Film Industry,” The Walt Disney Company, after Netflix rolled out long-form hit “Bird Box” with Hollywood elitist Sandra Bullock, made its official announcement of the upcoming Disney+ streaming service, in addition to notifying the masses that the company would pull all of its licensed content from Netflix, as a way to finally challenge the status quo.

While many may assume that this notion would knock Netflix from its pedestal, the leading streaming service announced that it had allocated $6 billion to original content for the coming year and signed TV-sweetheart Shonda Rhimes to a $100 million deal to produce Grey’s Anatomy-like hits for the service.

However, Disney poses one major advantage. Disney’s streaming service will be the only service available for streaming Disney-branded content, a major loss for all streaming services combined. The platform will house all Disney classics, such as The Lion King, Mulan, Cinderella and more, in addition to newer classics, such as Frozen. Disney announced that all of its films will be available on the platform shortly after its “run its course” with a theatre-release. For example, Frozen 2, which is set to hit theaters in November of 2019, will be available no later than Summer of 2020 on the Disney+ platform.

While Netflix has been the only streaming service to house Disney content, it doesn’t seem too shaken up by Disney’s departure. Despite its recent breakup, the relationship does get complicated with an ongoing partnership deal. In collaboration with Netflix, Disney has helped produce three seasons of Marvel character Jessica Jones that were streamed as “original Netflix content” on the platform, as well as five Marvel Defenders character shows that were ultimately canceled: Dare Devil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, The Punisher and now, Jessica Jones.

As of right now, it’s uncertain if Disney will revive these on its own platform, but Marvel Television chief Jeph Loeb seems to be hinting at a revival. Moving forward, it’s clear that Disney will be a tough competitor as it has traditionally lead the film industry in children’s content and owns the rights to all of its long-form classics. With Disney’s recent merger with Fox and new ownership of television’s longest-running animated series “The Simpsons” at the forefront, other streaming services will have to approach their content offerings in a strategic manner.

Morris Esformes
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