As of the company’s recent earnings report, Disney has announced plans to launch a streaming service in 2019. In concert with this, the company will be pulling its Disney and Disney/Pixar branded content off of Netflix.
CEO Bob Iger commented to CNBC that “This represents a big strategic shift for the company.” Disney feels that a direct-to-consumer branded service will “give [them] control of their destiny.” That said, as of right now, there are no plans to remove Marvel or Star Wars branded properties from Netflix. Despite this, Netflix stock declined upwards of 3% after the announcement, according to popculture.streaming.
All of that said, Iger also commented that they are considering creating similar branded services for the Marvel and Star Wars brands. The major concern is whether these brands are won’t “create a service so specialized that fans will not get value for their subscription”. They are looking into the overlap between fan bases of the Marvel/Star Wars brands and the classic Disney brand. As a result, they will wait on discussing the disposition of these brands until then.
What does this mean for Marvel and Star Wars, arguably two of the most profitable entertainment brands on the planet? Simply put, we don’t know yet. Rogue One made half a billion dollars domestically last year. In the last 18 months, the Marvel Cinematic Universe gained about 3.4 billion dollars world worldwide. There could well be a business reason to go for brand-specific streaming services.
That said, Disney does run the risk of alienating people with this. Not everyone will be willing to shell out more money for yet another streaming service. Additionally, the proliferation of branded streaming services — DC recently announced plans to distribute a live action Teen Titans and the third season of Young Justice on just such a service — could lead to market saturation or brand weariness among fans.
Then again, Marvel has fought the idea of market saturation or superhero fatigue before. Additionally, Star Wars is a consistently iconic franchise. At this point, we just don’t know what the consequences would be if these streaming services came into being. It will be up to Disney to see if it will ultimately come to pass.