After years of rumors and pixie-dust-fueled pipe dreams, Disney is finally ready to make its move in media subscriptions.
If you’re a Disney fan, you know that trying to find its movies and TV shows online has been something of a quagmire. Some are on Netflix, some are on Hulu, some are on STARZ, some are only accessible with a cable subscription, and some are only available if you outright purchase them. It’s a hot mess, and Disney knows that better than anyone. For years, Disney has been formulating its strategies, its content deals, and its development teams with the goal of gathering all of Disney’s content into one single subscription. We now have a name — and a launch window — for that subscription service: Disney+.
Disney CEO Bob Iger told investors the news during the company’s earnings call that the long-awaited subscription will be called Disney+, which will be launching in late 2019. This timeline makes sense — we already knew that Disney will be pulling its content from Netflix in 2019 — and the Disney+ placeholder site says that the service will offer content from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic. Original series and shows already announced and ordered for the new service, including a live-action Star Wars series focusing on Rebel spy Cassian Andor (played by Diego Luna from Rogue One, and another live-action series about Loki, god of mischief, starring Tom Hiddleston. Other series involving the Winter Soldier, Scarlet Witch, and Falcon have been rumored as well.
2019 may seem later than the White Rabbit to a garden party for Disney to jump into the subscription game, you have to remember that Disney has already been active in this space for years: Disney owns 30% of Hulu — and will own another 30% once the Fox deal goes through. Disney-owned ESPN launched the ESPN+ service earlier this year, a $5/month subscription that gives users access to a plethora of sports and sports coverage, both in streaming video and premium reporting on the ESPN website. Iger said today that ESPN+ now has over 1 million subscribers, which bodes well for the company and its digital strategy. While Disney+ will be a more traditional movies and TV, both subscriptions being + named gives us hope that maybe there will be a bundle with both services offered down the line.
Disney was the studio that started and perfected the digital copy system that allows users to bring its movies from platform to platform thanks to its cloud with digital retailers, Movies Anywhere. It’s still somewhat unclear how or if systems like Movies Anywhere will integrate with Disney+ to give you all your purchased and subscription Disney content in one place, but we’ve got almost a year to get all the details from Disney between now and that late 2019 launch.
Iger said that investors will get a “first look” in April of next year that will offer more details. Until then, we’ve got to have faith, trust, and pixie dust.