No Iron Man, no Chewbacca — no problem?
Shares of Netflix were up about 0.1% in midday trading from the previous closing price of $179.25 per share, after Disney chief Bob Iger said the “Star Wars” and Marvel franchises would be on Disney’s own streaming service slated for late-2019 debut. Previously, Disney had left the door open to the possibility that streaming rights to those movies would be licensed to Netflix or another third party.
Part of the muted reaction from Netflix investors is likely because investors were already bracing for the impact of the Mouse House pulling back Pixar and Disney titles: Netflix’s shares dropped 7% the week following Disney’s over-the-top announcement last month.
And while Netflix was still hoping to reach a new deal for “Star Wars” and Marvel pics, Wall Street wasn’t pinning its hopes on that happening. The upshot is that Netflix, at this point, is big enough that the loss of a single partner — even a name-brand one like Disney — isn’t enough to rock the boat.
At the same time, Disney shares fell as much as 5% Thursday, coming after Iger’s comments that earnings would be flat for fiscal 2017. Analysts said investors were mainly concerned about the long-term health of the pay-TV business — and also skeptical about Disney being able to pull off a win with the direct-to-consumer gambit.
In the grand scheme of things, the Disney movie output deal has represented only a fraction of Netflix’s overall content spending. Under that pact, Netflix pays about $200 micllion per year to Disney, analysts estimate — which is around 3% of Netflix’s total projected content budget of $7 billion for 2018.
Netflix has been prepping for the day when Hollywood studios launch SVOD competitors, stocked with their own content. “We started making original content five years ago, betting this would happen,” Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos told Variety in a recent interview.
Indeed, Netflix has made some big moves just in the past month on the original programming front. It made its first acquisition, comics publisher Millarworld (behind such titles as “Kingsman” and “Kick-Ass”), and struck an overall TV deal with Shonda Rhimes — poaching her from ABC Studios. Last week, Netflix announced a pact with Oscar-winner Damien Chazelle for “The Eddy,” a Paris-set musical drama series marking his first foray into TV.
Netflix and Disney originally inked the licensing pact for the U.S. pay-TV window in 2012, under which Netflix secured streaming rights to the Mouse House’s films starting with 2016 releases. Netflix has had a similar “pay one” agreement for Disney titles in Canada starting with 2015 releases.
Meanwhile, separately from the Disney movie pact, Netflix has a multiyear deal with Marvel for original series based on Marvel’s street-hero characters, including “Daredevil,” “Jessica Jones,” “Luke Cage” and “Iron Fist.” Those shows have been among the most original programming on Netflix.