Disney outlined plans Tuesday to sell some of its content directly to consumers online starting next year. It'll offer live sports and animated films including "Toy Story 4," sidestepping partners from Netflixto pay-TV providers like Comcast Corp. and DirecTV.
Starting in 2019, the only subscription streaming service with new animated and live-action Disney and Pixar movies will be the Magic Kingdom's own app. That will include "Toy Story 4" and the sequel to the huge hit "Frozen." Older movies will be there too, as well as shows from the TV channels Disney Channel, Disney Junior and Disney XD, and original TV and films.
Disney, which is ending an exclusive earlier movie deal with Netflix, might bring more of its properties - particularly its Marvel superheroes and the Star Wars franchise - under its wing, and could even offer them as separate streaming services. CEO Robert Iger said Disney is considering whether it should continue licensing Marvel and Star Wars movies to outside services like Netflix, move them into the Disney app or develop individual services for them.
The Disney service will be available in "multiple markets" outside the U.S. as well, taking advantage of Disney's global name recognition.
The sports service is coming in early 2018 and will air baseball, hockey and soccer games, tennis matches and college sports through ESPN's popular mobile app. Notably, ESPN will not be streaming pro football or basketball, at least initially.
Customers will also be able to buy fuller streaming packages from the baseball, hockey and soccer leagues, and watch them on the ESPN app.
To roll out its streaming services, The Walt Disney Co. will take majority control of BAMTech, a streaming arm of Major League Baseball spun off last year from Baseball Advanced Media, for $1.58 billion.