Disney Play

As is the case with almost anything on the internet, content is king. And that certainly holds true with the direct-to-consumer video streaming business where Netflix holds court as the almighty ruler of online streaming with around 130 million subscribers.

But Netflix's supremacy is about to be put to the test when Disney launches its new video streaming service next year that will debut with a "suite" of services for subscribers. Disney CEO/Chairman Bob Iger recently announced the name of the new service, and while exact pricing wasn't revealed, he made it clear that the service will cost less than Netflix. As reported by Variety, Iger also stated that the service will be called Disney Play and is "currently the biggest priority for the company for the 2019 calendar year." Since its official launch won't happen until 4Q 2019, who knows if that name will hold or if they'll come up with something else between now and then. Regardless, for now it is called Disney Play and once it is up and running, it will undoubtedly be a marvelous playground for all things Disney.

Though the availability of specific titles has yet to be announced, there is no doubt that Disney can compete with Netflix with regards to quality of original content. Especially once Disney content becomes unavailable to stream on Netflix in the coming years. But where Disney will undoubtedly lag behind Netflix is in sheer quantity of content. And that will be Netflix's only ace in the hole going forward. {googleads}

Now Netflix certainly has a substantial head start in digital streaming as the company has deals in place with many major Hollywood film studios and television networks (including Disney) in a addition to its own original programming that can only be watched on the Netflix streaming service. Disney undoubtedly understands and realizes that it can't compete openly with the sheer volume of content available to Netflix subscribers. And it has been reported that for that reason, the Disney Play service will be less expensive than Netflix which runs $8 - $14 per month depending on level of service. If we're talking about a $5-$10 per month subscription service for Disney movies, it may be worth the investment.


However, it needs to be pointed out that Netflix still owns the streaming rights for the Marvel AND Star Wars brands, so, until that contract runs out, Disney can't run any of its own Star Wars content or even any Disney content that is currently under contract with Netflix. But rest assured, any future Marvel or Star Wars development (beyond the expiration of the current Disney/Netflix contract) will be exclusive to Disney Play, meaning that once the new deal kicks in, there will be no Marvel or Disney content on Netflix, including the Disney movies and TV programs Netflix currently airs.

"But where Disney will undoubtedly lag behind Netflix is in sheer quantity of content. And that will be Netflix's only ace in the hole going forward."


The Star Wars property is a different thing however, as the Mouse House already has deals in place through 2024 with several TV networks for their Star Wars content, which means that when Disney Play goes live, they will have none of their own Star Wars content – unless they strike some kind of new deal between now and then. Also staring Disney in the face once its new service goes live will be saying goodbye to about $300 million in annual revenue Netflix plays for pay-TV rights for Disney theatrical releases. That's some serious free crack money! Will Disney be able to make up for that $300 million shortfall with a $5/month subscription? Time will tell. But looking around the corner at Disney's upcoming slate, there are several huge theatrical releases that just might tempt viewers to pony up, including: Captain Marvel, Dumbo, Toy Story 4, The Lion King, Frozen 2 and a new Star Wars installment.