Nov 8, 2019

Disney strikes key deal with Amazon ahead of Disney+ launch

Photo: Disney

Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger said on the company's third quarter earnings call Thursday that Disney has reached a deal with Amazon to put Disney+ on Amazon Fire TV devices, as well as on Samsung and LG televisions.

Why it matters: A streaming distribution partnership between Amazon and Disney seemed uncertain after it was reported last month that the two companies were at odds over advertising terms. Amazon's Fire TV stick is the second-largest TV app distributor next to Roku. Disney needs that distribution outlet to hit its lofty subscriber goals.

Driving the news: Aside from the distribution deal, Iger made several other announcements about Disney+ leading up to its planned launch next Tuesday.

  • International launch: By March 31, Disney+ will launch in countries throughout Western Europe, including the U.K., France, Germany, Italy, Spain and others. The service will also launch in the U.S., Canada and the Netherlands next Tuesday.
  • Hulu and FX: Hulu will become the official streaming home for FX content. It will offer current and new FX series at the same time as they air on FX's linear television channel. FX will also produce new content exclusively for "FX on Hulu."
  • Bundle: The streaming bundle that the company is creating, a combination of Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu with ads, will cost $12.99 monthly. That pricing is the same as Netflix's most popular $12.99 package.
  • ESPN+: Iger said that ESPN+, the company's subscription sports service, has reached 3.5 million paid subscribers in the 18 months since it launched last year.

The big picture: Disney's banking its future on its new streaming initiatives. Iger said at the top of his earnings call speech that the launch of Disney+ is the biggest corporate initiative in his 40+ year career at Disney.

Yes, but: While polling and analysis suggests that Disney will have a competitive advantage in the upcoming "streaming wars," its ambitious subscriber goals will be tested in coming months when competitive services begin to launch.

  • The company told investors in April that it expects to get 60 million to 90 million people to sign up for the service within five years.
  • The business has made several major investments in content and technology to hit those goals, most notably its $71.3 billion acquisition of most of 21st Century Fox last year, and the $1.58 billion deal for its remaining stake in BAMTech, a tech streaming service.
  • Disney will need to hit its subscription goals to recoup the losses from those investments over time.
  • Iger said that by its fifth year on the market, Disney+ will have 620 movies, 10,000+ TV episodes and 60+ original projects per year.

Our thought bubble: Where Disney will be most competitive is its content offering and competitive pricing. Disney+ costs less than Netflix and Amazon Prime and its bundled service will cost the same as Netflix's most popular subscription tier.

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Data: Axios research; Chart: Axios Visuals

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