Netflix Nabs Exclusive First-Run Walt Disney Movie Rights In USA

Marcus Dodd

Netflix has this week secured a “first-run” movie rights deal with Disney, Pixar, Marvel Comics and Lucasfilm which will come into force in 2016, making The Walt Disney Company the first major studio to opt for the video-on-demand (VoD) streaming specialist over other US television networks.

Netflix nabs exclusive first-run Walt Disney movie rights in USA

Following the announcement, Netflix’s shares jumped 14 percent, as its investors see the deal as an important endorsement of the streaming service. Liberty Media Corp, whose Starz group currently distributes Disney movies on TV in the USA, fell almost 5 percent.

A Barclays analyst said that the exclusive deal with Disney differentiates Netflix from other VoD service providers. Others expressed concern that Netflix paid too much to get Disney’s movies, in excess of $350 million (around £219 million) which could lead to the firm having to raise more capital.

Disney movies will be available for streaming on Netflix on a “first run” basis in the United States starting from 2016, after its current deal with Liberty Media’s pay-TV channel Starz expires. The deal is for both new movies from Disney’s studios, and library content such as Dumbo and Alice in Wonderland.

This gives Netflix exclusive streaming rights to movies from Disney’s live-action and animation studios shortly after they are screened in cinemas, including those from Pixar, Marvel, and the recently acquired Lucasfilm which inevitably means more Star Wars films further down the line.

Netflix’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos believes the partnership is a leap forward for internet television, and that users will receive high-quality family films as a result.

The agreement will allow Netflix to stream Disney movies seven to nine months after they appear in theatres, which takes on more significance following Disney’s recent decision to shut down their online service after it failed to catch on. It remains unknown if this deal will be available to all users of Netflix throughout the world including the UK, or if it will stay exclusive to its American subscribers for a period of time.