Disney’s streaming service is set to disrupt the broadcasting world; here’s everything we know about the upcoming platform.
Back in 2017, Disney announced its plans to launch its very own streaming service. The platform will host several new Disney series as well as exclusive Disney movies and all the Disney content that’s currently streaming elsewhere. The platform, set to compete with the likes of Netflix, is a smart move meant to deliver Disney content directly to consumers by cutting out the middleman (and earn Disney some additional cash in the process). As of November 2018, we now know that Disney's streaming platform will be called Disney+ and that it will launch in the United States in late 2019 with details about an international launch still under wraps.
One of the biggest entertainment companies in the world, The Walt Disney Company, commonly known as Disney, is a diversified multinational conglomerate. It was founded back in 1923 and quickly established itself as a leader in the animation industry. As time went on, the company expanded and diversified, currently handling live-action film production, television and theme parks. Among the giant’s entertainment holdings you’ll find Lucasfilm, Marvel and Pixar.
Last year, anticipating the launch of the streaming service, Disney purchased a majority stake in digital media company BAMTech, which is responsible for building HBO’s US streaming platform HBO Now. With BAMTech’s input, Disney is planning to launch an ESPN-branded multi-sport video streaming service this year called ESPN Plus, followed by the new direct-to-consumer Disney streaming service (Disney+) in late 2019.
It seems like everyone is launching a streaming platform these days, so why is Disney so special? First off, this new platform will become the exclusive home for subscription-video-on-demand viewing of the newest live action and animated movies from Disney and Pixar from 2019 onwards. That includes highly anticipated upcoming titles like Toy Story 4, Frozen 2 and the live-action Lion King movie. Moreover, 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.
But more importantly, Disney’s streaming service will also host content from Disney’s subsidiaries Marvel and Lucasfilm. This means that the platform will also host all the Marvel and Stars Wars movies released so far, with upcoming releases exclusive to the platform. These are without a doubt some of the most important film franchises in the world, so it’s obvious that the Force will be strong with this new streaming service, especially since geekdom is responsible for a ridiculous amount of box office income.
Additionally, Disney's recent purchase of 21st Century Fox means Disney will take control of the popular US streaming service Hulu. In a November 2018 earnings call, Disney Chairman Bob Iger outlined the company's plans to expand Hulu's availability to more countries once the purchase of Fox is finalised (which is expected for January 2019).
As a result, Disney will end its distribution agreement with Netflix for subscription streaming of new releases, beginning in 2019. This means Disney titles will be on Netflix for a little while longer, so we suggest you start making your way through your to-watch list ASAP.
The same goes for Foxtel Now subscribers. For now, it’s unclear when exactly Disney's content will be pulled from other streaming services, at least in Australia. There's the possibility that Foxtel will manage to hold on to the rights for limited time blockbusters but there's no doubt most content will be exclusive to Disney+.
With competition within the streaming market getting fiercer, content will be the major differentiator for users looking to shell out some cash for entertainment purposes. And thanks to its family friendly movies and TV shows, Disney’s platform will look appealing to all sorts of consumers, from Marvel fans to classic Disney enthusiasts.
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While details on an international release date for Disney+ haven't been officially announced yet, we do know that it will launch in the United States late 2019.
At best, we could be looking at a mid-2020 release but expect to wait longer for Disney to get all its Donald Ducks in a row before launching globally.
What content and original productions will Disney+ have?
Besides the titles we’ve mentioned above, Disney is also investing in original content for the streaming platform. This is in line with what competitors like Netflix and Amazon are already doing. To begin, the company will rely on established brands instead of exploring new avenues, but its focus might change as time goes by.
In November 2018, Bob Iger confirmed that there are, in fact, two original live-action Star Wars TV shows coming to Disney+. The Mandalorian is a series that follows the exploits of a Mandalorian bounty hunter (of Boba Fett's ilk) during the rise of the First Order by Jon Favreau (who brought us the live-action Iron Man). Next up is an original series led by the roguish spy Cassian Andor, a conflicted rebel who fights ruthlessly for the greater good. Diego Luna will reprise his role as Cassian from the movie Rogue One. Considering that movie's climactic finale, we're assuming it will be a prequel.
Iger also confirmed the rumoured Loki series is being created for Disney+ with Tom Hiddleston confirming he would return for the role on social media. There's still no official word on the rumoured Scarlet Witch series but considering the accuracy of the leaks so far, it's a safe bet.
Disney+ will also be home to a Monsters, Inc. series and a new High School Musical series.
On the movie front, Disney is looking to produce a slate of book adaptations. The list includes The Paper Magician by Charlie N Holmberg, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli, the Timmy Failure series by Stephan Pastis and Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. Bound for the streaming service is also Magic Camp with Adam Devine, Gillian Jacobs and Jeffrey Tambor, as well as Christmas movie Noelle starring Anna Kendrick, Bill Hader and Shirley MacLaine. Live action remakes of Three Men and a Baby, The Sword in the Stone and Lady and the Tramp will likely also premiere on the streaming service.
As far as budgets go, Deadline reports that these shows will cost between $25 million and $35 million for 10 episodes, but an exceptionally ambitious series could have a budget cap of $100 million for a 10-episode season. This is a good sign since Disney’s willingness to invest proves that the streaming platform won’t be a mere online version of The Disney Channel. Instead, it looks like Disney views the service as a viable home for smaller theatrical releases and a solid platform for original shows.
As one might expect, details about the upcoming platform aren’t set in stone. This includes pricing. However, Disney’s CEO Bob Iger has hinted that the price will be lower than Netflix’s, at least for the US market. That’s mainly because Disney's service will have substantially less content at the beginning than Netflix currently does.
As a reference, Netflix currently costs US$10.99 per month. We estimate that Disney’s service could cost between US$5 per month and US$8 per month. Disney’s CEO also mentioned that prices will rise as the platform’s content library grows, which is to be expected.
On the same note, Disney currently has a streaming platform for the UK market, DisneyLife. It costs £4.99 per month or a little under AUD$9.00. The service offers a one-week free trial and is packed full of Disney classics: films, TV series, books and music. It offers over 400 classic films and 4,000+ Disney TV episodes. The new streaming service will probably cost a bit more since it will offer more content.
While Disney's streaming service is a ways off, there are still a few ways you can stream a small portion of Disney's massive vault of movies. Foxtel has a small collection of flicks, as does Netflix. However, as of December 2018, Stan has some serious access to the Disney vault. See the full list here.
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