Disney’s CEO Bob Iger has announced that the company’s new streaming service, slated to launch next year, will be the company’s ‘biggest priority’ for 2019. Armed with a portfolio of well-known franchises such as Star Wars and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Disney plans to end its current distribution agreement deal with Netflix in favor of launching its own competing service. While the exact name and pricing of the new streaming service have yet to be unveiled, Disney has stated that its new service will begin operation during Q4 of 2019. Furthermore, Disney also plans to become the majority stakeholder in the online streaming service Hulu.
Having recently acquired BAMTech, a company specializing in providing streaming solutions, Disney is preparing to enter a market dominated by Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. With 130 and 100 million subscribers respectively, these two services make up the bulk of the video subscription industry. Compared with the other two, Disney’s own service has an advantage in already having established brands and franchises. Despite this, there are doubts of Disney being able to match the amount of content Netflix and Amazon provide. CEO Iger, however, has stated that Disney’s current goal is not to compete in quantity but quality. He also added that Disney’s streaming service would be cheaper than Netflix’s, and if successful, could eventually expand to compete in the amount of content. Potential movies expected to debut on Disney’s new platform include Frozen 2, Toy Story 4, Dumbo, Captain Marvel, and Star Wars: Episode IX.
Complementing the launch of its own streaming service, Disney also plans to take a majority stake in Hulu. By buying Fox’s 30-percent stake in the company, Disney will become the majority stakeholder with 60-percent stake in the company. Disney plans to use this buyout as an opportunity to both expand its own streaming service and appeal to older audiences by pairing it with its soon to be launched streaming service. In addition to already popular services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, Disney can also expect strong competition from AT&T, which has been heavily investing in its HBO Now service. While HBO Now’s 5 million subscribers pales in comparison to Hulu’s 20 million subscriber base, AT&T’s traditional HBO and Cinemax networks still have over 49 million total subscribers, leaving plenty of room for growth.