The increasingly crowded field of streaming services is about to become even more fractured, as Disney has announced plans to pull its films from Netflix and launch its own streaming service in 2019, as well as a separate ESPN streaming platform due in 2018.
While Netflix has long been the reigning champion of streaming video services, that's due largely to the one time DVD delivery service getting in on the ground floor of the streaming boom. As the media world has shifted away from reliance on traditional revenue streams, more streaming services have risen up to compete with Netflix. Amazon Prime and Hulu, in particular, have proven to be genuine threats to Netflix's dominance.
Disney is ready to get in on the streaming action themselves. Per reports from CNBC and The Wrap, the company is preparing to launch two separate streaming services. Disney is preparing to remove all of its movies from Netflix and reposition them on a Disney streaming platform that they are aiming to have ready by 2019.
In an even bolder move, Disney is working on a standalone streaming service for ESPN. That service would potentially offer live streaming of games from the NBA, MLB, college sports, and tennis, as well as bonus sports related content. Disney CEO Bob Iger released a statement that laid out Disney's vision for its streaming future.
“Today we announced a strategic shift in the way we distribute our content. The media landscape is increasingly defined by direct relationships between content creators and consumers, and our control of BAMTech’s full array of innovative technology will give us the power to forge those connections, along with the flexibility to quickly adapt to shifts in the market. This acquisition and the launch of our direct-to-consumer services mark an entirely new growth strategy for the Company, one that takes advantage of the incredible opportunity that changing technology provides us to leverage the strength of our great brands."
As their Marvel and Star Wars properties continue to break records, Disney has been thriving at the film box office. But the cord cutting trend has taken a toll on Disney's television wing, specifically ESPN. A streaming service for their sports content makes a tremendous amount of sense; a dedicated service for the company's movie slate is probably a slightly tougher sell.
This is yet another blow to Netflix, which has begun shedding much of its film and television catalogue to big competitors like Amazon Prime and Hulu, as well as more niche upstarts like BritBox and CBS All Access. Netflix has attempted to offset this decline in their catalog by producing more original content, but it's tough to imagine the loss of films like Star Wars: Rogue One and Captain America being anything other than a setback to its continued dominance.