Bob Iger Gives First Details About Disney’s Streaming Services

The Walt Disney Company released the first details surrounding its new over-the-top streaming services during a fourth-quarter earnings call on Thursday. On the call, CEO and chairman Bob Iger said Disney’s ESPN-branded app, which will launch next spring, will be called ESPN Plus, and that the Disney entertainment service, due out in the spring, will be priced lower than Netflix.

Disney’s direct-to-consumer plans are a huge focus of the company going forward—Iger called them “our highest priority this year”—and anticipation over the forthcoming services may obscure the company’s overall lackluster performance this quarter. Disney’s reported revenue of $12.8 billion was down 3% from the previous year’s quarter. The decline was due to a lack of big movie releases, a drop in subscribers and advertising at ESPN, and Hurricane Irma, which forced Florida’s Walt Disney World theme park to close for two days. Disney shares fell 4% in after-hours trading.

That said, Iger seems bullish about the company’s future, largely due to its streaming plans. He said Disney will start giving demonstrations of ESPN Plus in early 2018, when the company will also determine its pricing. The app will enable users to view highlights, stream ESPN programming, and subscribe to thousands of additional live sporting events.

DISNEY MAGIC ON DEMAND

As for the entertainment app, in addition to new Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm movies released within the first pay window—and films and TV shows from the Disney library—users will also be able to stream four to five films produced exclusively for the service, along with original TV series. The latter will include a Star Wars live-action show, another based on Pixar’s Monsters Inc., and a High School Musical series. Iger says there will not be ads interrupting programming on the service, but that Disney was looking into sponsorship opportunities.

The cost of the app will be “substantially less than Netflix,” Iger says, because it will initially have less volume initially. But it will grow over time, he added.

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SOURCE: Fast Company, Nicole LaPorte