Disney pulling back content from third-party distributors ahead of streaming service launch

Iger
Disney CEO Bob Iger. (Getty Images)

Netflix won’t be the only service missing out on Disney content once the company launches its own streaming service in late 2019.

Disney CEO Bob Iger said that Disney will be pulling back all of its content that is distributed and monetized on third-party platforms.

“We are fully committed to not only bringing the product to market and making it a long-term success. It has to be the destination for all Disney stuff, and that means ultimately weaning ourselves of our product being available any other place except for our linear channels,” Iger said Tuesday during Disney’s second-quarter earnings call.

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Disney recently launched ESPN+, a $5 per month streaming service, and is working on original programming for its Disney-branded streaming service launching next year. At the same time, Disney is pursuing a $52.4 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox assets, including film businesses Twentieth Century Fox, Fox Searchlight Pictures and Fox 2000, and television creative units Twentieth Century Fox Television, FX Productions and Fox 21. Disney will also acquire FX Networks, National Geographic Partners, Fox Sports Regional Networks, Fox Networks Group International, Star India and Fox’s interests in Hulu, Sky plc, Tata Sky and Endemol Shine Group.

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While several of those assets could play a role in Disney’s digital strategy, Iger was careful to note that Disney’s streaming ambitions do not hinge on the Fox deal.

“Neither [ESPN+ nor the Disney streaming service] are dependent upon that acquisition. Both are capable of taking advantage of some of the assets we’ll be buying as part of that acquisition,” Iger said.

He said said Fox’s regional sports networks could contribute to ESPN+ and that National Geographic and some of the other Fox properties could contribute to the Disney streaming service.

“But that largely is going to be anchored by Disney, Marvel, Pixar and Star Wars, so not dependent at all on the assets we’re buying from Fox,” Iger said. “Of course, through the acquisition we end up owning 60% of Hulu and it is our intention to continue to fuel Hulu with more original programming and much of that original programming will come from the assets of both Disney and Fox. FX is one example. Searchlight is another.”