Streaming is the New Network: Disney Leaves Netflix

Disney leaves Netflix. Photo Credit: Google Images.

In August 2017, Disney announced that it would be pulling all of it’s content off of Netflix and launching it’s own streaming platform in 2019. Netflix secured the licenses to stream Disney’s content in 2012, but Disney’s content has only been available on Netflix since September of 2016, meaning that Netflix will not get to see much of the rewards from this deal. The Verge reports Netflix will be able stream Disney’s content until 2019, meaning they will have access to the next two Star Wars films and other new content that Disney comes out with in the next year.
In addition to a streaming service for their movies and short films, Disney is developing a sports streaming service. Disney has acquired the majority shares of the company BAMTech, an internet video provider developed by Major League Baseball for online streaming and content. Disney will help expand BAMTech and partner with ESPN to launch an online sports streaming service. The infrastructure of the sports streaming service will provide the model for the streaming of Disney’s other content. In Disney’s official announcement, CEO Robert A. Iger stated, “The media landscape is increasingly defined by direct relationships between content creators and consumers…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.” Disney plans to launch the sequel to Frozen and Toy Story 4 on this new service, along with other original movies and shows.
Although losing the rights to stream Disney’s content will certainly be a blow to Netflix, and add another competitor to a market Netflix previously had a monopoly on, Netflix has proven its ability to successfully reinvent itself in the past few years. Despite losing approximately 50% of it’s library since 2012, Netflix still proved successful. Previously, Netflix had been the largest streaming service after it transitioned from being mainly a service which mailed DVDs. However, since 2012 they have been producing incredibly successful original content. Producing more in-house content means that Netflix doesn’t have to negotiate licensing and streaming deals that could fall through, such as their deal with Disney.
Netflix’s original shows such as House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, and Sense8 have captivated audiences and received much critical praise. Following Netflix’s success at creating original content, other streaming services have branched into creating original content as well. This past year, Hulu released The Handmaid’s Tale to intense critical acclaim, and Amazon has produced Transparent which has remained consistently praised. Viewers and critics alike have come to see content from streaming services as having similar or better quality than network equivalents. The 2017 Emmy nominees for best drama reflect this, with four out of the seven being original content from streaming services. In fact, almost every category had a nominee that was original content from a streaming service.
Disney’s announcement just marks another step in an already present trend. Audiences are highly receptive to streaming services, and brands have noticed. Companies are realizing that streaming services are not just a fad, and original content released on them has been wildly successful. In the next few years, we can most likely expect to see an increase in streaming services, with more companies creating their own platforms. Similar to paying more for a larger cable package with more channels, audiences may need to expect to pay for multiple online providers, since streaming services have now become networks in their own right.

Terrin Rosen is a junior Philosophy and Political Science double major with a minor in Legal Studies. She works for the Goucher Writing Center and enjoys all forms of writing.

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