If you’re wondering why Marvel movies and Star Wars weren’t mentioned as being among the titles included in Disney’s upcoming streaming service, announced yesterday, that’s because they might be getting their own branded services instead. According to Disney CEO Bob Iger, the company is still considering how it wants to bring Marvel and LucasFilm titles to consumers. There’s been talk of launching proprietary Marvel and Star Wars services, he said on Disney’s earnings call on Tuesday.
But that decision is not yet set in stone.
“We’re mindful of the volume of product that would go into those services, and we want to be careful about that,” Iger explained.
The exec also noted that the other option on the table was to add the Marvel and Star Wars films to the new Disney streaming service. However, it sounds like the company isn’t sure that’s the right place for them. The feeling is that there may not be as much overlap between the Disney fans and Marvel or Star Wars fans to warrant such a move, he said.
That’s an odd take, especially given the appeal that superhero movies and Star Wars has for kids. Sure, they might be slightly older children than those who want to tune in to watch the new Frozen sequel or the latest in the Toy Story franchise, but there’s definitely going to be overlap among the potential customer base for a Disney streaming service, and one for either Marvel or Star Wars.
After all, it’s not the children who are paying for these services – it’s the parents. And many families have children of different ages, not to mention adults who are also interested in Marvel and Star Wars, too.
Still, it seems like Disney doesn’t believe it will need to add these titles to generate demand for its Disney/Pixar streaming service.
While its flagship Disney and Pixar movies will bring in subscribers, the company also said yesterday that it has already begun the development process at the Disney Channel and the Studio divisions to create original TV shows and movies that will be made exclusively for the new service. Essentially, Disney is mimicking the Netflix model here, with an attempt to create must-see shows and films that you can’t find elsewhere.
The other thing that makes a Marvel or Star Wars-branded service a possibility is that Disney now has the technical capabilities to make that happen – something that could have otherwise held up projects like this. With the company’s $1.58 billion investment in streaming technology infrastructure provider BAMTech, which gave it a controlling interest, it’s able to go where the market takes them when it comes to streaming.
“This lays the groundwork for the company to do a number of things,” Iger said, speaking in a post-earnings interview with CNBC. “It provides us with all sorts of optionality that we haven’t had before. You know, it’s one thing to say you’ll be in the business of direct-to-consumer or over-the-top, and it’s one thing to do it. And to do it, you need a really strong technology engine,” he added.
If Disney wanted to go the route of standalone streaming services for all its brands, it would have the content to do that. There are TV shows like ABC’s Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD and Marvel’s Inhumans, Freeform’s Cloak and Dagger and New Warriors, Disney XD’s Star Wars Rebels, online content, plus all the movies, and more when other licensing deals expire. But this also raises the question – what does this mean for the Marvel shows that are now on Netflix?
Disney and Netflix, as you may recall, struck a multiyear deal several years ago under which Marvel would develop four original live-action series for Netflix, “Daredevil,” “Jessica Jones,” “Iron Fist,” and “Luke Cage,” plus “The Defenders.” The deal followed an earlier agreement that exclusively licensed Disney movies during the pay TV window from Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Studios, and Disneynature.
This latter deal is the one that’s wrapping up in advance of the 2019 launch of Disney’s streaming service. The 2019 releases – Lion King, Frozen 2, Toy Story 4 and others – will go to Disney’s service instead, along with back catalog content from the Studio and Channel made over the years, and original programming.
According to Iger, however, the company has no plans to pull its Marvel TV shows from Netflix – adding that Disney and Netflix have had a “great relationship” on that front.
He said, too, that the possibility still exists that Disney will license other titles to Netflix down the road.