Disney CEO Bob Iger claims, per The Hollywood Reporter, that the new Disney streaming service has plans to not only include about 500 films from the Disney library, but also four or five original films and original television programming as well. Meanwhile, the company will develop sports network ESPN into its own streaming app.
Although the specifics of Disney’s new streaming plan still have yet to be fully revealed, the potential ramifications of its launch could lead to some major changes in where fans get their content. A current partnership between Disney and Netflix has seen films like Captain America: Civil War and Rogue One: A Star Wars Storyavailable streaming just months after they left theaters. It’s quite likely that Disney will plan something similar for its own service, meaning Disney will go from a partner to a powerful competitor.
What, then, will become of original Marvel Studios fare streaming elsewhere? Unlike, say, the Ghostbusters, Disney appears to have no problem crossing its streams. Current plans call for existing Marvel Netflix shows to continue with additional Marvel Studios content also in development for Freeform (Cloak and Dagger and New Warriors) and Hulu (Runaways). That’s in addition to ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the new Inhumans. Warner Bros. is meanwhile developing its own streaming service for the Distinguished Competition.
Marvel and Star Wars are two Disney properties that could potentially see brand new content developed for the new service. It’s not hard to imagine that one of the four or five films Bob Iger mentions could be set either in the Marvel Cinematic Universe or in a galaxy far, far away.
Anyone who has used the current Disney Movies Anywhere service knows that Disney already has a solid grasp of how to deliver streaming content. A DMA library is playable through a variety of devices and includes not just the movie, but the entire special feature content of the discs. Simply delivering special features through a stream would be something that Netflix does not currently offer.
Disney’s commitment to streaming does raise some questions about whether or not the company will continue to commit to physical media. Since the VHS days, Disney has “vaulted” certain classic titles, removing them from the marketplace and rereleasing them years later to take advantage of the demand created by their absence. While it’s not impossible to treat streaming content the same way, the rationale of ever making something unavailable would be a bit different.
While streaming may now seem like the ultimate delivery service for content, it’s entirely possible that there are futures for entertainment distribution that we haven’t even considered yet.