Netflix CEO Reed Hastings addressed the forthcoming competition of Disney’s streaming service. In recent years, there’s been a major disruption in the way movies and TV shows are viewed, and a lot of it has to do with Netflix. Netflix ushered in streaming, while later throwing huge amounts of money at creators of original series, and causing its numerous, much more established competitors to adjust their strategies, if not their entire business models.
Now, sometime in the not-so-far future, another disruption is on the way, with Disney seeking to roll out a Netflix-like streaming service of its own. Disney, which will pull its content from Netflix, announced its plans last summer, with a launch set for 2019. Now, Netflix is addressing the Disney elephant in the room.
On Netflix’s quarterly earnings call Monday, according to Variety, CEO Reed Hastings and other Netflix executives answered questions about the Disney service and how its arrival might affect the company’s business. The short answer? They’re not all that worried.
“We don’t see it as a threat to us any more than Hulu has been,” Hastings said on the call. Of the Disney movies leaving Netflix, Hastings said, “It’s great content, but we are able to grow without it just fine.” Hastings also admitted, though, that the Disney service, especially following its acquisition of Fox’s film and TV assets, will be “very successful,” and admitted that he plans on subscribing himself.
Is Netflix making a mistake in being so blasé about the new Disney service? Possibly. Disney, after all, is much better-capitalized than Netflix, and owns a staggering amount of content, including the entire Disney animation, Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm libraries, on top of everything it stands to acquire in the Fox deal. Netflix has a huge customer base now, but Disney is certainly in position to begin outbidding Netflix on content, talent and more.
Then again, if Netflix really were shaking in their boots about the arrival of the Disney streaming service, they’d be unlikely to admit such a thing on a public earnings call more than a year in advance. There’s also a lot we don’t know about the Disney service, from its name, to exactly when it will launch, to what it will cost to what original programming will be included - though we do know Disney is planning original Marvel and Star Wars live-action TV series. The Disney service will likely change how the entertainment landscape works, but it remains unclear if its effect will be to draw subscribers away from Netflix, or to lead to the same people to subscribe to both.
The new Disney streaming service is set to launch in 2019.