Disney delivers streaming pitch
Walt Disney chief executive Robert Iger disclosed new details on streaming services and the Star Wars film franchise as the company reported declines in three of its four core businesses for its latest quarter.
Mr Iger would not comment on reports Disney pursued an acquisition of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets and declined to take questions on the topic during a conference call.
Disney is developing new television series based on some of its biggest franchises — Star Wars, Monster Inc, High School Musical and Marvel — that will be carried on a Netflix-style streaming service set to launch in the second half of 2019, Mr Iger told analysts.
They were the first specific programming announcements Disney had made about the service. By placing such premium content there, rather than on its cable channels or ABC network, the company is signalling that it views the direct-to-consumer offering as a high priority.
Mr Iger also provided some information on pricing for the service, saying it will be “substantially below” that of Netflix because it will start with “substantially less volume”.
Netflix currently charges between $US8 and $US12 ($10.40-$15.60) a month. As Disney adds more content to its service after 2019, the CEO said, the price could increase.
Mr Iger also revealed that an ESPN digital offering scheduled for next year would debut in the northern spring and be called ESPN Plus. It will be part of a redesigned ESPN app that includes sports scores and highlights along with content from the cable network available only to people with a pay-TV subscription. The digital offering will include sports such as tennis that don’t air on cable.
Walt Disney CEO Robert Iger with Minnie and Mickey