Alibi V.27 No.38 • Sept 20-26, 2018 

Idiot Box

Stream On

Disney digital dawns

It’s looking increasingly like 2019 will be known as The Great Fracturing in the entertainment industry. I’ve been warning you for years that the various mega-corporations running Hollywood are embracing internet streaming in a big way and no longer want to play nice with one another. Why distribute their TV shows and movies on Netflix or Hulu along with everybody else when they can start their own proprietary streaming service and charge you $9.99 a month for it? Are you an exclusive fan of Warner Bros. TV and movies? (Paramount Pictures? Feh!) Well, then you’ll love paying for AT&T’s new Warner Bros. direct-to-consumer streaming service, featuring 24/7 WB. Of course, if you’re like 99.9 percent of all consumers and have no idea what studio made your favorite TV shows and movies, this new era is gonna be veeeery confusing.

Realistically, the only studio with a solid shot at going solo is Disney. For starters, the Walt Disney catalogue is deep and deeply beloved. Also, Disney now owns Pixar and Marvel and Star Wars and the Muppets. Combine all of those various franchises, and you’ve got a streaming service that might just be worth the money. We’ll find out for sure next year, because The Walt Disney Company is ending its relationship with Netflix by the end of 2018. Meaning, if you wanna watch The Lion King or Incredibles 2 or Avengers: Infinity War or Solo: A Star Wars Story, you’re gonna have to give Disney more of your hard-earned money.

Sometime in late 2019 (a date has not been announced) Disney’s as-yet-unnamed streaming service will debut. The price is expected to be less than Netflix (currently $10.99 standard and $13.99 premium), which will be “reflective of the fact that it will have substantially less volume,” as Disney CEO Bob Iger diplomatically phrased it last year.

So what will you get for your sub-$10.99 monthly price tag? All the expected movies, of course (the Star Wars franchise, Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, all the Disney you can eat). A wealth of “remakes/reboots” (Lady and the Tramp, The Sword in the Stone, Three Men and a Baby). A bunch of TV series spin-offs based on existing properties (“High School Musical,” “Monsters, Inc.,” a live-action “Star Wars” series being developed by Jon Favreau) and some new/continuing material (another season of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” an “untitled” Marvel series, a possible “Muppets” revival). All in all, it’s a far stronger start than CBS All Access, which gave us “Star Trek Discovery” and … some “Miami Vice” reruns?

Disney recently continued its plans to swallow up all of Hollywood by buying out 20th Century Fox and its assets. That includes FX networks and the NatGeo Channel. (But not the FOX television network or Fox News Channel, which are being spun off into their own corporation). So, presumably, those networks will also be contributing to Disney’s streaming service content sometime in the future. (Ironically, Disney is also now a majority stakeholder in Hulu, thanks to the takeover.)

So, while a lot of questions remain unanswered about Disneyflix (as some observers have dubbed it), the direct-to-consumer streaming service is looking like a potential winner. And a major harbinger of our “choose our corporate loyalty” future.