A newly signed deal between subscription video platform Stan and global entertainment behemoth The Walt Disney Company is expected to end before Christmas 2019 but may signal a closer partnership in future as Hollywood film studios move towards streaming.
Subscribers to Nine Entertainment Co’s Stan used the streaming platform to access major Disney movies like The Lion King and Toy Story for the first time on Friday, however television industry sources believe it’s a short-term agreement that will finish late next year.
When Stan revealed the partnership a timeframe was not specified and representatives of the business have repeatedly declined to confirm when the deal ends.
In the short-term an arrangement with Disney is an opportunity for Stan to increase subscribers this summer with the addition of classic family content.
More significantly, the deal is likely to be the first public sign of the local streaming platform’s ambitions for a deeper collaboration in future with the US-based giant.
The timing of the content deal is crucial because Disney is gearing up to launch Netflix-competitor direct-to-consumer streaming platform Disney+ next year with thousands of hours of library content. Disney is also set to control 60 per cent of American streaming platform Hulu after a multi-billion dollar acquisition of Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox.
Details about whether Disney+ will be available in Australia have not yet been released though there has been discussion for months about the pressure another competitor in the market will have on local platform Stan.
The future of Stan’s deal with CBS for its Showtime content has also attracted speculation after CBS-owned Network Ten launched local subscription platform 10 All Access on December 4.
Stan chief executive Mike Sneesby is overseas and would not comment on the Disney deal, though last month he said offshore players had to consider the “opportunity cost” of selling content to a local player versus launching a new platform in a country like Australia, where the population is comparatively small.
“Some players will launch in the direct to consumer space, but others won’t. The cost of licensing in is too high for some to justify direct to consumer,” Mr Sneesby said in November.
Relationships between Netflix and some major Hollywood studios have soured in recent months, with the global leader creating more original content. Disney announced in 2017 it would be taking its content off of the major streaming platform, with subscribers complaining on social media about the removal of specific children’s films like Moana earlier this year.
A search for Disney on Netflix Australia on Sunday lists titles like Cars, Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 and some Disney nature documentaries, with all the major titles now moved to Stan, which is heavily promoting the acquisition at the top of the apps’ main page.
The sensitive deal has seen staff at Stan and Nine signing non-disclosure agreements and both companies declined to comment.
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