Netflix took a major step to secure its future today, becoming the first-run home of all movies from the Walt Disney Studios in the pay cable window. This displaces former Netflix ally Starz as the first place you can see their films on television just in time for Avengers 2 and Star Wars: Episode VII. The deal also gives access to a large selection of the Disney back catalog almost immediately, as well as high profile releases starting in 2013:
Beginning with its 2016 theatrically released feature films, new Disney, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Studios and Disneynature titles will be made available for Netflix members to watch instantly in the pay TV window on multiple platforms, including television, tablets, computers and mobile phones. Also included in the agreement are high-profile Disney direct-to-video new releases, which will be made available on Netflix starting in 2013.
Separately, Disney and Netflix have reached agreement on a multi-year catalog deal that today brings to U.S. Netflix members such beloved Disney movies such as “Dumbo,” “Pocahontas” and “Alice in Wonderland.”
As of this writing, the films haven’t gone up yet, but this is very important for Netflix’s continued survival, and possibly re-opens the door for a merger with Starz. Since Netflix is now producing their own content, it’s important that there’s somewhere linear for it to go after it ceases to become a subscription generator. This also hits when Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm starts to pay off, and at the height of the second “family” of Marvel Universe films, all of which are expected to be huge moneymakers for all involved.