Disney to Launch Own Streaming Service, End Netflix Distribution in 2019
The Walt Disney Company will acquire majority the ownership of BAMTech and will launch an ESPN-branded multi-sport video streaming service in early 2018, followed by a new Disney-branded direct-to-consumer streaming service in 2019.
Under the terms of the transaction, Disney will pay $1.58 billion to acquire an additional 42 percent stake in BAMTech—a global leader in direct-to-consumer streaming technology and marketing services, data analytics, and commerce management—from MLBAM, the interactive media and Internet company of Major League Baseball. Disney previously acquired a 33 percent stake in BAMTech under an agreement that included an option to acquire a majority stake over several years, and yesterday’s announcement marks an acceleration of that timetable for controlling ownership.
The ESPN-branded multi-sport service will offer a robust array of sports programming, featuring approximately 10,000 live regional, national, and international games and events a year, including Major League Baseball, National Hockey League, Major League Soccer, Grand Slam tennis, and college sports. Individual sport packages will also be available for purchase, including MLB.TV, NHL.TV and MLS Live.
The new service will be accessed through an enhanced version of the current ESPN app. In addition to the multi-sport service, the ESPN app will include the news, highlights, and scores that fans enjoy today. Consumers who are pay TV subscribers will also be able to access the ESPN television networks in the same app on an authenticated basis.
The new Disney-branded service will become the exclusive home in the U.S. for SVOD viewing of the newest live-action and animated movies from Disney and Pixar, beginning with the 2019 theatrical slate, which includes Toy Story 4, the sequel to Frozen, and The Lion King from Disney live-action, among others. Disney will also make a significant investment in an annual slate of original movies, TV shows, short-form content, and other Disney-branded exclusives for the service. the service will also feature a collection of library content, including Disney and Pixar movies and Disney Channel, Disney Junior and Disney XD television programming.
With this strategic shift, Disney will end its distribution agreement with Netflix for subscription streaming of new releases, beginning with the 2019 calendar year theatrical slate.
Plans are for the Disney and ESPN streaming services to be available for purchase directly from Disney and ESPN, in app stores, and from authorized MVPDs.
The BAMTech transaction is subject to regulatory approval, and upon closing, Bob Iger, chairman and CEO of The Disney Company, will serve as chairman of the BAMTech Board. MLBAM and NHL will continue as minority stakeholders in BAMTech, with seats on the Board. Mr. Paull will report to Kevin A. Mayer, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer, The Walt Disney Company. John Skipper, ESPN President and Co-Chairman, Disney Media Networks, will manage the new ESPN-branded service.
The BAMTech transaction is expected to be modestly dilutive to Disney’s earnings per share for two years. Additional dilution as the Company implements its direct-to-consumer strategy will be dependent on the Company’s licensing approach and the level of investment in original programming.
eOne Teams with Target for Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom Toy Line Launch
Entertainment One (eOne) has launched an exclusive line of toys based on the preschool property Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom, airing daily on Nick Jr., at Target. The debut assortment from master toy licensee Jazwares will be followed by the first book title from newly signed publishing partner, Scholastic, on October 15.
“We are so excited to launch the magical new Ben & Holly toys from Jazwares at Target,” says Joan Grasso, senior vice-president, licensing, North America, eOne Family. “We’ve had great success with Jazwares as master toy licensee for Peppa Pig and we’re thrilled to extend our partnership with this exceptional range that will let children create their own enchanting Ben & Holly-inspired adventures.”
The Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom toy line features a range of whimsical playthings to spark a child’s imagination while enhancing their fine motor skills. The new offerings for children ages 3–5 include:
- Little Castle with Holly, Daisy & Poppy – Deluxe 12” two-story playset with four rooms filled with unique details, plus exclusive Holly, Daisy and Poppy figures and ten fun accessories! Contents fit inside the castle for easy clean-up and storage, and the castle features a handle for transporting to neighboring kingdoms!
- Royal Car with Holly & Nanny Plum – An 8” purple car equipped with Holly and Nanny Plum figures that fit perfectly into the seats. The doors open and close, and when the crown on the front of the car is pressed, the series’ theme song plays.
- Magic Movers 4-Pack – Four 4” buggies each with their own non-removable figure – Holly, Ben, Barnaby, and Violet – that moves up and down as kids push the buggy along. Easy to grip and hold.
- Royal Family 5 Figure Pack – King and Queen Thistle, Princess Holly, Daisy, and Poppy figures, each outfitted with crowns and wands, of course!
- Fairy Tea Party – The 5” playset comes with two figures, Holly and Violet, and two unique accessories for spell-binding fun!
- World of Ben & Holly Single Packs – Articulated figures with royal accessory, featuring Holly and her mirror, Ben with his horn, Jake with his toy robot, Strawberry and Foo Foo, and more to come!
In addition to the new toys launching this season, the first Ben & Holly book, “The Magical Tale of Ben and Holly”, from Scholastic, will make its debut at Target nationwide in October. The debut storybook introduces readers to the magical world of Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom, including Ben the elf, Holly the fairy and their friend Gaston the Ladybird.
Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom follows Holly, a young fairy princess who is still learning how to fly and whose magic doesn’t always go quite according to plan. Her best friend, Ben the Elf, doesn’t have wings or do magic, but he, like all elves, are very good at making things, especially toys. They live in the Little Kingdom, a tiny land where flowers and grass rise above the tallest towers. The series is targeted to children ages 3-6 and appeals equally to boys and girls. Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom was created by Astley Baker Davies, creator of Peppa Pig.