Disney Will Launch Streaming Services for Movies and Live Sports After Its Deal With Netflix Ends

ESPN's expanded app will debut in 2018, Disney's service in 2019

Netflix stands to lose future Disney movie titles starting in 2019. Disney
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During its quarterly earnings call on Tuesday, The Walt Disney Company’s CEO, Bob Iger, announced that the company will start its own streaming service when its current deal with Netflix ends.

Additionally, the company is looking to create a multisport streaming service for ESPN by early 2018.

The news comes a day after CBS’ earnings call, in which the network announced a livestreaming sports network.

“Today, we announced a strategic shift in the way we distribute our content,” Iger said. “The media landscape is increasingly defined by direct relationships between content creators and consumers.”

The Disney-branded streaming service is set to launch in 2019, when Disney’s distribution agreement with Netflix ends. The streaming deal with Netflix, which included everything from Marvel properties to Disney Channel shows, was reported to have only been for three years when it started in 2016.

The timing of the new service aligns with the 2019 theatrical slate for Disney which includes Toy Story 4, a Frozen sequel and a live-action Lion King film.

Disney also plans to create original movies, TV shows and short-form content exclusively for its streaming service.

The sports streaming service will have approximately 10,000 live regional, national and international games and events each year, including MLB, NHL, MLS and many other leagues. Individual sports packages will also be available for purchase.

The expanded offering will be available through the current ESPN app. Consumers who are also pay TV subscribers can authenticate through the app to watch all ESPN television networks.

During a large round of layoffs at ESPN earlier this year, talks of a streaming service were already being discussed. A Netflix-like interface for ESPN was seen as an opportunity.

“Our results for the quarter reflect the underlying strength of our brands and franchises, and our continued investment in high-quality content,” said Disney CFO Christine McCarthy on the earnings call. “Our ability to successfully execute on our core strategy, coupled with our plans for new direct-to-consumer offerings, give us continued confidence in our ability to drive shareholder value.”

The Walt Disney Company also announced a controlling ownership of BAMTech, a distributor of direct-to-consumer entertainment.

“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,” Iger said.

“This launch of our direct-to-consumer services marks an entirely new growth strategy for the company,” he said, “one that takes advantage of the incredible opportunity that changing technology provides us to leverage the strength of our great brands.”

@samimain sami.main@adweek.com Sami Main is social editor for Adweek, where she posts Adweek content onto social platforms and looks for creative ways to communicate what's new.