Instead, the Mouse House is going off on its own, launching two separate streaming services by 2019 that will exclusively feature highly-anticipated films such as "Toy Story 4" and the coming "Frozen" sequel. With Disney comprising 30% of all Netflix viewing in the U.S. currently, some are wondering whether the move might jeopardize Netflix's dominance.
Not everyone is that worried, however. Netflix can rely on its growing library of original series and movies, as well as numerous other deals it has with content providers, to fill the noticeable hole left by Disney, analysts said. Having the rights to Disney content is good for any platform, but several analysts contend Netflix can survive without it. Further, Disney programming was only available in the U.S., so it shouldn't affect Netflix's global services and prospects, said Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Kip Paulson.
"Unlike traditional pay-TV networks (HBO, Showtime, Starz, etc.), Netflix has an exceptionally broad array of films and TV programming in its buffet," said Jeffrey Logsdon, managing director of JBL Advisors, by email.
Netflix has been more than willing to shell out large sums of money to build original content (it has a $6 billion budget for content, including licensing, in 2017) and may ramp that up even further to help respond to the loss of Disney content. Jefferies analyst John Janedis said he expects Netflix will invest more in original kids programming to limit any potential impact to subscriber growth or churn. Netflix seems laser-focused on creating original content, Janedis said, as evidenced by its planned acquisition of comic book publisher Millarworld, which was announced on Monday.
The company has also made some inroads in the original film space (titles like "Okja" have been well received). JPMorgan analyst Doug Anmuth estimated that original movies account for about 5% of Netflix's total spending on original content, but that budget looks likely to increase. "We believe licensed content will always be an important part of Netflix's service, but Netflix is clearly becoming less dependent on 3rd-party content over time," Anmuth added.
A scene from Netflix's "Okja."
It remains unclear, however, whether Disney will be removing only Disney and Pixar films from Netflix, or if it will also be bringing over Marvel and Star Wars films. Disney CEO Bob Iger said on the company's earnings call on Thursday that Disney hasn't decided yet on streaming distribution plans for its Lucasfilm and Marvel titles, but noted that Disney's own streaming service will include "all Disney content." The decision could wind up having a big impact on Netflix.
Disney's Media Networks group also includes ABC, ESPN, Freeform and the Disney Channel.
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