The Walt Disney Company is launching its own streaming service as part of a series of announcements that sees it take direct control of its content offering.
The Mickey Mouse creator is also set to acquire streaming technology and marketing services company BAMTech for $1.6 billion, is launching an ESPN-branded streaming service and is ending a distribution deal with Netflix.
The Disney-branded SVoD service will launch in 2019 and be the exclusive home for new content from both Disney and Pixar, including Toy Story 4 and the sequel to Frozen, as well as a vast catalogue of historical programmes.
Disney also promised to make “a significant investment” in producing original movies, TV shows and short-form content for the new service.
This mirrors what the likes of Netflix and Amazon have done in recent times, but Disney said it was pulling the plug on an existing distribution deal with Netflix when its new service launches.
The ESPN-branded service will feature around 10,000 live games and events a year from the likes of Major League Baseball, National Hockey League, Major League Soccer and Grand Slam tennis.
It will launch early next year, Disney said, and will be accessed through an enhanced version of the existing ESPN app.
Both the Disney and ESPN streaming services to be available for purchase directly from the two companies, in app stores and from distributors, including telcos.
Crucial to both launches is the acquisition of a majority stake in BAMTech.
Disney is upping its existing 33 percent stake in the company to 75 percent by buying out MLBAM, the interactive media and internet company behind Major League Baseball.
Robert A Iger, Chairman and CEO of Disney, said: “The media landscape is increasingly defined by direct relationships between content creators and consumers, and our control of BAMTech’s full array of innovative technology will give us the power to forge those connections, along with the flexibility to quickly adapt to shifts in the market.
“This acquisition and the launch of our direct-to-consumer services mark an entirely new growth strategy for the Company, one that takes advantage of the incredible opportunity that changing technology provides us to leverage the strength of our great brands.”
CCS Insight analyst Paolo Pescatore said the news quashed rumours of Disney acquiring Netflix and said it may embolden others to go down the same path: “Removing Disney content will be a setback for Netflix, but expect other content and media owners to follow Disney in removing their programming from Netflix to differentiate their own offerings.”
This year has seen a number of moves by European telcos into content production; Liberty Global is the most recent, unveiling Platform One Media last month.
The new Disney streaming services will also boost the content catalogues of those telcos who prefer to be aggregators.