Poor Netflix. Once the dominant streaming video service, Netflix is facing a slew of new competitors including the increasingly formidable Walt Disney Company.
When Disney announced its Disney+ streaming service, Netflix lost a highly valuable source of programming. Is Disney now going in for the kill?
The Mouse House will be offering a low-cost bundle of streaming services. We have the details on the new Disney product, as well as a look at another streaming service that is adding to Netflix's woes.
Disney bundles popular services
First came Disney+, which will yank all Marvel, Disney and Star Wars programming from Netflix. The $7 price tag for Disney+ makes it even more appealing.
Now, Disney has announced that it is offering a bundled package that includes Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ for just $13 starting on November 12, the same day Disney+ launches. The announcement was made this week during an investor's call.
The version of Hulu included in the bundle is the one with advertising. So what's Hulu's connection with Disney?
In May, Disney and Comcast Corporation announced that Disney will "assume full operational control of Hulu, effective immediately." Disney already is the majority shareholder of Hulu, but Comcast's NBCUniversal has a 33% stake in the streaming service. Under the new agreement, Comcast can require Disney to buy NBCUniversal’s interest in Hulu as early as January 2024.
ESPN+ is another Disney property. This version of ESPN may not have "SportsCenter," but it will include an interesting mix of programs such as major league baseball, hockey and soccer, as well as Grand Slam tennis, boxing, PGA tournaments, college sports, and UFC fights.
Rounding out the ESPN+ programming is ESPN Films' full library, including its critically acclaimed series of documentaries "30 for 30." But Disney+ is still the golden egg.
Disney CEO Bob Iger told investors during the call that Disney+ is “the most important product the company has launched in my tenure.”
Iger offered what could be an even more ominous threat to Netflix. He told investors that the streaming service will be available through Amazon, Apple and other distributors.
Iger added that no deals had been finalized but "we feel it’s important for us to achieve scale quickly, and we think it’s going to be an important part of that. They’re all interested in distributing the product.”
Since Amazon already has a streaming service and Apple is developing one, how those deals would work remains a question.
Netflix Time Warner
Netflix is getting a one-two punch this year. After Disney announced its new streaming service, WarnerMedia followed up with HBO Max and Netflix lost one of its most popular properties, the television series "Friends."
Last year, Netflix paid a jaw-dropping $100 million to stream "Friends" through 2019. That comes to an end in 2020 when "Friends" migrates to HBO Max.
Along with all 236 episodes of "Friends," HBO Max will combine content from HBO with a slate of original shows and other programming from Warner Bros., New Line, DC Entertainment and more. So, viewers likely won't be hearing the words "I'm Batman" on Netflix and other streaming platforms in the near future.
As for HBO Max, no pricing has been announced yet. However, there are reports that the service could cost up to $17, but it will likely be bundled with HBO and Cinemax.
The streaming wars are good for business, but it comes at the expense of consumers. Most consumers won't be able to afford every streaming service out there.
The big names are likely to gobble up some boutique streaming services, but others may become extinct. Looking at you Netflix.
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