One of the bigger surprises in entertainment last year was the announcment that Disney has plans to star its own streaming service to compete with Netflix and while the target for that service has been set for 2019, we now have a little bit better of an idea when next year.
During an earnings call today, Disney CEO Robert Iger revealed that Disney's direct-to-consumer service will launch "late 2019."
The venture could be huge for Disney. Last year, Morgan Stanley analyst Benjamin Swinburne estimated that once the Disney service hits 30 million subscribers, it could generate 5 billion in revenue and 1.5 billion in EBITDA (earings before interest, taxes, depreceation, and amoritization,) numbers that result in $20-$25 billion dollars of value for the service.
Fans and the entertainment industry at large have all been watching the developments in Disney's streaming service eagerly. Disney surprised many last year by announcing that their exclusive deal with Netflix would come to an end in 2019. The partnership with Netflix has been highly profitable and when Disney pulls away for their own service, they stand to enter the streaming business from a good place. Disney will have a lot of properties they can pull from for their services and while Disney's first priority is to pull their Disney and Disney/Pixar-branded films to their new service, Disney also has the Star Wars and Marvel properties at their disposal as well. And as though those content lanes wasn't enough, if the deal with Fox goes through, Disney will have an even larger catalog of content they could, in theory, bring to their own streaming service as well.
However, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings doesn't seem too concerned about Disney's upcoming streaming service. During a recent Netflix investors call, Hastings compared Disney's service to Hulu.
"We don't see it as a threat to us any more than Hulu has been," Hastings said, adding that he expects it to be "very successful" for Disney thanks to their extensive IP.
Hastings went on to say that when Disney's service does launch? He will be one of the subscribers.
"I know I'll be a subscriber of it," he said.