The announcement ends speculation about what would happen to the Marvel and Lucasfilm titles currently being streamed on Netflix. When the Walt Disney Company announced last month that it would launch a Disney-branded direct-to-consumer streaming service, Iger said Disney and Pixar movies on Netflix would move to the planned streaming service.
“We’ve now decided we will put the Marvel and ‘Star Wars’ movies on this app as well,” Iger said during a question-and-answer session at Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media’s communications and entertainment conference held at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.
Iger also narrowed the time frame when the Disney streaming service will launch, saying he expects it will go live in late 2019. The announcement of a streaming platform signaled Disney felt ready to compete in the digital streaming space that Netflix has dominated in recent years. Netflix has been ramping up its original offerings in an effort to reduce its dependency on licensing content like Disney hits “Zootopia,” “Finding Dory,” and “Rogue One.”
Shortly after Disney announced its plans, Netflix hit back by poaching ABC Television hitmaker Shonda Rhimes in an exclusive overall deal. Rhimes, the “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal” creator, has spent more then a decade at Disney’s ABC. The development came amid negotiations between Disney and Netflix over the streaming rights to Marvel and Lucasfilm titles.
Iger offered a few more details Thursday about its streaming service, saying Disney plans to produce four or five original movies per year, as well as an equal number of original series and TV movies. A price for the subscription has not yet been announced.
Investors didn’t seem to be cheered by Iger’s announcement. Disney shares were down about 4% in midday trading after the news broke, on what has so far been a down day overall for the Dow and S&P 500 indexes.