Disney has set a massive movie licensing pact with Sony Pictures for the U.S. that promises to bring Spider-Man and other Marvel properties to Disney Plus starting with Sony’s 2022 release slate.
The wide-ranging deal, which runs through Sony’s 2026 theatrical slate, also calls for Sony titles to run across Disney’s array of streaming and linear platforms, making it unprecedented in scope as it covers Disney Plus, Hulu, FX Networks, ABC, Disney Channels and Freeform. It also includes a significant number of library titles that will be spread among various outlets. Hulu will gain access to what Disney described as “a significant number” of library titles starting in June.
The agreement comes on the heels of Sony’s output deal with Netflix for titles in the lucrative post-theatrical release Pay 1 window. The Disney deal covers subsequent TV windows, meaning that the titles will land on Netflix first, about nine months after the start of a film’s theatrical run. Disney is scooping up for multiple platforms the windows previously reserved for ad-supported cable and broadcast airings of movies. The Netflix and Disney deals also run for the same license term.
Like the Netflix deal, the Disney pact only covers the U.S. market, despite the global reach of the streamers. The complex agreement is likely to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars to Sony over the term of the deal, which runs about six years in total given the lag time for Disney getting access to the movies. With Netflix and Disney deals combined, Sony is expected to rake in about $3 billion in movie licensing over the life of the deals.
The complex deal was wrangled by Chuck Saftler, head of business operations for ABC, Freeform, FX Networks and Acquisitions for Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution, and Keith Le Goy, president of worldwide distribution and networks for Sony Pictures Entertainment. The deal marks another example of the entertainment industry rewiring its business models to adjust to a new era of TV exhibition and distribution.
“This landmark multi-year, platform-agnostic agreement guarantees the team at Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution a tremendous amount of flexibility and breadth of programming possibilities to leverage Sony’s rich slate of award-winning action and family films across our direct-to-consumer services and linear channels,” said Chuck Saftler, head of business operations for ABC, Freeform, FX Networks and Acquisitions for Disney’s Media and Entertainment Distribution. “This is a win for fans, who will benefit from the ability to access the very best content from two of Hollywood’s most prolific studios across a multitude of viewing platforms and experiences.”
Le Goy noted that the deal was “groundbreaking” and reflected the studio’s focus on getting its movies distributed as widely as possible.
“This groundbreaking agreement reconfirms the unique and enduring value of our movies to film lovers and the platforms and networks that serve them,” said Le Goy. “We are thrilled to team up with Disney on delivering our titles to their viewers and subscribers. This agreement cements a key piece of our film distribution strategy, which is to maximize the value of each of our films, by making them available to consumers across all windows with a wide range of key partners.”
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