Disney Departing Netflix in 2019 and Launching ESPN, Movie Streaming Services

Today, Disney has announced that it plans to launch its own movie streaming service sometime in the year 2019. And when this happens, the studio’s popular movies will no longer be available to stream on Netflix.

The company that brought Mickey Mouse to the world continues to thrill children and adults of all ages with its polished entertainment products. The announcement was made today during an investor’s call and a press release confirmed the news.

Forthcoming movies that will never appear on Netflix include Toy Story 4, the sequel to Frozen, and the live action version of The Lion King that the studio is working on. And of course there will be many others.

A representative from Disney told Polygon.com’s Julia Alexander that “US Netflix members will have access to Disney films on the service through the end of 2019, including all new films that are shown theatrically through the end of 2018.”

Currently, Netflix and Disney have a multiyear agreement—signed in 2012—that went into effect in 2016 when Disney’s exclusivity deal with Starz expired. But it looks like the era of Disney on Netflix will only last for three years. The option to leave the service was built into the agreement. Notably, Marvel television shows including Daredevil and The Defenders will remain on Netflix after the change goes into effect.

The new service won’t be just about movies from Disney’s various studios. The company’s press release notes that it will “make a significant investment in an annual slate of original movies, TV shows, short-form content and other Disney-branded exclusives for the service.”

This news about leaving Netflix is the most relevant to AV enthusiasts. However, in the same announcement, Disney noted that it has purchased a majority stake in a company called BAMTech, LLC and will launch an “ESPN-branded multi-sport video streaming service in 2018.” The company already has a 33% stake in BAMTech and is acquiring another 42% stake in the company for $1.58 billion.

Regarding the move into premium sports content streaming, Disney says subscribers to the ESPN service will access it through an enhanced version of the existing ESPN app. The announcement says that “For many sports fans, this app will become the premier digital destination for all their sports content.”

In terms of scope, per the press release, “The ESPN-branded multi-sport service will offer a robust array of sports programming, featuring approximately 10,000 live regional, national, and international games and events a year, including Major League Baseball, National Hockey League, Major League Soccer, Grand Slam tennis, and college sports. Individual sport packages will also be available for purchase, including MLB.TV, NHL.TV and MLS Live.”

Will the loss of movies from Disney’s studios negatively impact Netflix? Can the company go it alone with its admittedly impressive array of family friendly entertainment? Is this new ESPN service the answer to the prayers of sports fan cord-cutters? Only time will tell, but please chime in with your take on how all this will play out.