Netflix has just landed a pretty major deal. The video subscription service has acquired a multi-year licensing agreement with Disney that allows Netflix to be the only U.S. subscription-TV service for Disney movies in their first run starting in 2016. That right is currently owned by Starz, but that deal expires in 2015.
So what does this mean for Netflix subscribers? Well, starting in 2016, Disney films will become available on Netflix not long after their theatrical runs are over. Don’t forget that Disney owns plenty of other movie studios as well, including Marvel, Pixar and, most recently, Lucasfilm. Those studios haven’t announced all of their major upcoming releases yet, but this news will at least apply to flicks like “The Avengers 2” and “Star Wars: Episode VII,” both of which are slated to come out in 2015.
Though the exact terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, it has been reported that Disney movies will be available on Netflix about seven months after they leave theaters. Since “The Avengers 2” comes out May 1, 2015 and the new “Star Wars” film will also likely come out over the summer, that means that seven months after they leave theaters plops them solidly in “2016” territory. By definition, they should be some of the first films affected by this deal. All of these Disney movies will come to Netflix before they become available on Starz, Showtime and HBO. Disney’s direct-to-video new releases will be available on Netflix starting in 2013.
UPDATE: A representative from Starz has sent Zap2it a clarification explaining that Starz retains the rights to air and stream any Disney, Lucasfilm, Marvel or Pixar movie that is released up until Dec. 31, 2015. Any movie released after Jan. 1, 2016 will fall under the new Netflix/Disney deal. That means that “Star Wars: Episode VII” and “The Avengers 2” will fall under Starz’ jurisdiction, not Netflix’s. The company has also released this statement:
“Starz will continue to be the exclusive home of all Disney movies, including the Lucas Film, Marvel and Pixar releases, and their accompanying digital streaming rights, into 2017. Our decision not to extend the agreement for Disney output past that time allows us the opportunity to implement our plan to dramatically ramp up our investment in exclusive, premium-quality original series which will best meet the needs of our distributors and subscribers.”