Disney Is Ditching Netflix and Launching Its Own Streaming Services

Walt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Pictures

Moana, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and The Emperor’s New Groove — these are just a few of the many Disney movies you can watch on Netflix right now. But it turns out the days of conveniently streaming Disney’s catalogue of iconic content on the popular service are numbered, now that the company has announced plans to end its deal with Netflix and launch its own streaming services in the coming years.

On Tuesday, Disney announced it is ending its partnership with Netflix in 2019, meaning its programming will be scrubbed from the service shortly thereafter. As a way to undercut the competition from its onetime ally, the company -- which owns ESPN, Marvel Entertainment, Lucas Film ltd., and Pixar, among sundry other holdings -- will start two of its own subscription streaming services that will ultimately compete with the standard bearer of online TV. 

As The New York Times reports, one of Disney's "Netflix-style" platforms will be an ESPN-branded service catering exclusively to professional and regional sports, set to launch next year. ESPN has recently suffered from a glut of financial travails, as cable companies have moved away from programming "bundles" that force consumers to pay for the premium sports network. With the new streaming platform, Disney hopes to rescue the worldwide leader in sports from shrinking revenues that saw it lay off 100 staffers earlier this year. 

The other yet-to-be-named service will host Disney and Pixar films, both live-action and animated, cementing itself as the only online purveyor of mega-blockbusters like Toy Story 4 and the upcoming sequel to Frozen. Content from Disney's other channels, like Disney Junior and Disney XD, will also live on the site when it's operable in 2019. In case you were wondering, this spells trouble for Netflix: Disney's gambit essentially leaves the company in the dust, considering Netflix secured rights to the entertainment giant's massively popular slate of content in 2012 -- a business relationship that proved fruitful, until it didn't, according to a report by The Verge

Making the whole proposition possible is Disney's acquisition of the streaming company BamTech, which currently powers streams for Worldwide Wresting Entertainment, Major League Baseball, and HBO, among other networks. Disney levied a $1.58 billion bid to acquire majority ownership of the company, a deal CEO Robert A. Iger described as a "very, very significant strategic shift" during an earnings call on Tuesday. 

While the cord-cutting revolution promises to further complicate the way you chill out on your couch, you can rest easy that the tectonic shift is set to happen incrementally: the cuts will start with Disney's 2019 films, while Disney and Pixar movies already available on Netflix will disappear after their current deals expire, according to a report by CNN. After that, however, everything belonging to Disney and Pixar will ultimately vanish from your Netflix experience. As for favorites belonging to the Marvel Universe, such as Luke Cage and Jessica Jones, Forbesreports that those shows will continue to live on Netflix. 

Of course, Disney's major shift away from Netflix won't be noticeable for a couple of years, but if the news isn't an excuse to rewatch Moana right now, we don't know what is. 

[h/t The New York Times, CNN

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Sam Blum is a News Staff Writer for Thrillist. He's also a martial arts and music nerd who appreciates a fine sandwich and cute dogs. Find his clips in The Guardian, Rolling Stone, The A.V. Club and Esquire. He's on Twitter @Blumnessmonster.