The last couple of years has seen an absolute boom take place within the streaming subscription service market, with niche after niche getting its own particular targeted offering. For new TV shows, there's Hulu. For binge watching of past shows and celebrated original content, there's Netflix and Amazon Prime. For wrestling fans, there's WWE Network, while horror fans can subscribe to Shudder. And so on.
The latest company to throw its mouse-eared hat into the streaming ring is Disney, noted purveyors of animated classics and towering corporate monolith that has spent the last few years buying up fellow Hollywood giants like Marvel and Lucasfilm. Set to launch next month in the U.K., DisneyLife will allow subscribers to instantly access the vast majority of content in the Disney vault, including Pixar's entire back catalog of films. Subscribing to DisneyLife will cost users £9.99 a month, which is equal to $15.40 in U.S. currency. The service will roll out in several more European countries by next year.
When you consider just how expansive the Disney library of films and TV shows is, it seems like a completely obvious move for them to start up their own subscription VOD service. Disney CEO Bob Iger would seemingly agree with that sentiment, based on the statement he gave Variety about DisneyLife:
“This is the future, in many respects. We’re seeing more and more opportunities to reach consumers directly and not through middlemen, and we’re seeing consumers wanting product in different ways.”
Unfortunately, there is a bit of a catch. While subscribers will indeed get access to most of the Disney library, everything falling under the considerable umbrellas of Marvel and Star Wars will be missing in action (as will anything involving Indiana Jones). Iger says that those franchises might receive their own specific streaming services in the future, but for now, the force will not be strong with DisneyLife.
So right about now, most North Americans reading this are probably wondering when they'll get to take DisneyLife for a spin. Sadly, the answer to that question is probably not any time soon. Disney has streaming deals with Netflix in both the USA and Canada that includes the streaming rights for upcoming theatrical releases, and a large amount of content from the Disney vaults. That effectively precludes Disney from launching its own service in either country for at least the duration of the current deals - and there's always the possibility that the two companies will just re-up their contract for several more years at that point.
Even without North America in play, it's hard to imagine a Disney subscription service failing. Nearly everything the company touches turns to gold as of late, and the Disney library is one of the most treasured in all of modern popular culture. The biggest sticking point for most will likely be the lack of Marvel and Star Wars content on the service - but from a business standpoint, Disney is making the right move. Few fandoms are as dedicated as those of Marvel and Star Wars, and if Disney launches streaming services specific to those brands, the fans will surely come. Even if they do it begrudgingly.
DisneyLife launches in the U.K. in November 2015.