Disney + Open To Non-Disney Licensed Programming

During their investor call today, Disney CEO Robert Iger said that the upcoming Disney+ streaming service will not rule out the idea of using content farmed out from other production houses, provided Disney can make the numbers work.

The question came as a result of Disney's acquisition of Diary of a Female President, from writer Ilana Peña (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), Robin Shorr (The Carmichael Show), Jane the Virgin star Gina Rodriguez’s I Can and I Will production company, and CBS TV Studios. Rodriguez is hugely in demand right now, and both she and Peña worked with CBS on their previous shows, as The CW is co-owned by CBS and Warner Bros.

“I think the strategy will be long term pretty heavily weighted toward internally sourced,” Iger told investors, but “there will be occasion where we will be glad to license from third parties. Because the Fox deal hasn’t closed yet -- so we can’t take advantage of some of their capabilities -- and because we need to launch the [Disney+] service with some volume and it takes time to ramp up, we’re buying certain products form the outside opportunistically.”

That may sound ominous for outside properties licensed by Disney+, but that is not necessarily the case. Iger compared the strategy to the approach Disney took to licensing things like Star Wars and Indiana Jones (before they were Disney products) or the Avatar franchise (more recently) for their parks.

“We’ll continue to look at opportunities that we think we can leverage because there’s a potential consumer demand for them,” Iger said.

Diary of a Female President sounds a bit like The CW's old show Jack & Bobby, which told stories centering on the young life of a pair of brothers, one of whom would grow up to be President. In this case, the series centers on a young Cuban-American who will one day become the first female President, as she struggles through her pre-teen years.


In addition to licensing content from the outside, Disney+ is spending lavishly on Marvel and Star Wars-branded original content, as well as other familiar Disney brands like High School Musical and a planned live-action film adaptation of Lady and the Tramp.

The Disney+ service is expected to launch near the end of 2019.