Almost a year after Disney announced plans to create its own streaming video service, that project now has a name — Disney Play. It’s being created to challenge Netflix, Hulu, and similar high-end streamers.
Disney’s chairman and CEO Bob Iger revealed the name of the service while discussing how the company plans to compete with industry leader Netflix and the various other direct-to-consumer streaming video platforms currently in use and in development. Iger indicated that Disney Play is the company’s “biggest priority” in 2019 — which says a lot, given the scope of Disney’s influence and content.
Here’s everything we know about Disney Play so far.
What will it include?
Disney hasn’t revealed too many details about its streaming service yet, but we do have a general idea — and lots of rumors — about what Disney Play will likely feature when it launches in 2019 and beyond.
Initial reports suggest that Disney is planning to have approximately 7,000 episodes of television series and 400 to 500 movies available on the service when it launches. First and foremost among the content will be a variety of projects tied to Disney’s Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, and Disney-specific properties.
A report published in September indicated that Disney is developing multiple series featuring both characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the actors who played them on the big screen. According to Variety, Loki and Scarlet Witch are two of the characters with shows in development, with both Tom Hiddleston and Elizabeth Olsen, respectively, expected to reprise their roles from the MCU films.
The previously announced, live-action Star Wars series being developed by Jon Favreau is also among the projects destined for Disney Play, and the studio’s upcoming movie slate — which includes Captain Marvel, Frozen 2, Toy Story 4, Star Wars: Episode IX, and Favreau’s live-action remake of The Lion King — will probably have exclusive streaming availability on the service.
Other original movie projects announced for the service include multiple remakes, as well as new films, such as 3 Men and a Baby, Don Quixote, Father of the Bride, Flora & Ulysses, Lady and the Tramp, Magic Camp, Noelle, The Paper Magician, The Parent Trap, Stargirl, The Sword in the Stone, Timmy Failure, Togo, and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.
On the television side, a seventh season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars will be available, as well as series based on the movies High Fidelity and High School Musical.
Whether those projects will find their way to other streaming platforms at some point remains unknown.
How much it will cost
Disney plans to undercut Netflix when it comes to pricing for its streaming service, and will likely come in under the monthly $8 to $14 fee charged by Netflix. This decision, Iger acknowledged, has as much to do with making the service more appealing financially as it does with accurately valuing the amount of content available when it debuts.
When it comes to Disney Play’s initial library, Disney won’t attempt to match Netflix in sheer volume of content, explained Iger in a wide-ranging feature published by Variety. Being able to draw from Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, and Disney brands gives the service an exclusivity that other platforms lack, he argued, as long as the content is kept to the high standard fans expect.
“We have the luxury of programming this product with programs from those brands or derived from those brands, which obviously creates a demand and gives us the ability to not necessarily be in the volume game, but to be in the quality game,” Iger said.
What it won’t include
One thing Disney Play won’t be doing is pulling original Marvel, Star Wars, or Disney content off competing platforms. This should come as good news to fans of live-action Marvel series on Netflix, for example, as well as recent series such as The Gifted and Runaways.
The availability of the first six films in the Star Wars franchise is also uncertain at this point, as Disney sold the U.S. broadcast rights to the films — which also apparently included streaming rights — to Turner Broadcasting System in a 2016 deal that gives Turner control of the movies through 2024. Disney has made efforts to buy back the rights, but no deal has been struck at this point.
In keeping with Disney’s family-friendly approach to programming, there won’t be any “R”-rated projects available on the service, either. Any movies or TV series that push the boundaries of Disney’s typical “PG-13” audience will be diverted to Hulu, according to various reports.
When it will launch
Disney hasn’t given the service an official launch date at this point, other than a vague late-2019 target for it to go public and become available to subscribers.
Updated on September 19, 2018: Added details about the live-action Marvel miniseries in development.
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