Disney+, the company’s upcoming streaming service, will carry Disney’s entire catalog of animated films, ending Disney’s long-standing “vault” program. CEO Bob Iger told shareholders today that Disney+ “at some point fairly soon after launch” will carry films that “traditionally have been kept in a ‘vault’ and brought out basically every few years.”
That’s a major policy change for the company, which, until now, has deliberately created artificial shortages of its films via extremely limited re-releases. You know, like the one Nintendo is notorious for. But the policy has led to frustrated customers, who often have to pay a high premium for used Blu-rays or DVDs of the films that aren’t available at any given moment. For instance, even with Disney’s live-action Aladdin coming soon, the animated film is unavailable for streaming or digital purchase.
Disney currently cycles 34 movies in and out of the vault, ranging from the company’s most popular films, like The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast, to direct-to-video sequels like Bambi II and The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea.
Disney movies soon won’t be available to stream anywhere but Disney+ — not on YouTube, Netflix, or even Disney’s TV channels. From Disney diehards who want to rewatch their favorite films to parents looking forward to introducing their kids to their childhood favorites, fans will have to reach for existing physical home video media or Disney+. A new CNBC report lays out the value of that exclusivity.
“Our confidence in the resilient success of Disney+ comes from the company’s unmatched brand recognition, extensive premium content, and unparalleled ecosystem to market the service,” analyst Alexia Quadrani told investors, as reported by CNBC.
Disney isn’t just relying on its catalog of older films. The company is also planning to produce live-action series from popular franchises like Star Wars, Marvel, High School Musical, and Monsters, Inc. But having the promise of Aladdin, The Lion King, Dumbo, and The Little Mermaid available is a crucial advantage. JPMorgan is betting that Disney will eventually have 160 million subscribers worldwide, according to CNBC, which is more than Netflix’s current 139 million.
While there isn’t a specific launch date for the service, you can bet people will be flocking to sign up. It will interesting to see how AT&T handles Disney’s “brand” since he believes Netflix doesn’t have one. I guarantee that Disney and Netflix will have more subscribers than WarnerMedia will have ever.