Since Disney first started talking about streaming services, it has been assumed that there would be one of more Disney-owned platforms designed to stream Disney-owned content. At once point, there was rumor of as many as three services, with one being designated for each of the major segments of the company's content: Disney, Marvel, and Lucas. Over time, the offering has been narrowed down to a single service that would house all of Disney's content under one roof.
This week, on the company's earnings call, CEO Bob Iger gave us a little bit of insight into the future of the platform. First, the service will be named Disney+, which is reminiscent of the previous branding of Hulu's paid service, Hulu Plus. The naming scheme is a little ironic as, with the closing of the Disney-Fox merger, Disney owns 60 percent of Hulu (30% from ABC and 30% from 20th Century Fox).
Even more surprising than the poor name choice is the format of the service. In addition to the expected Disney, Marvel, and Lucas branded content, Disney+ will also feature licensed content from other sources. This means that Disney+ will be in direct competition with Hulu, both for consumer spending, but also for streaming rights negotiations. In essence, Disney will be competing with themselves when new content becomes available for streaming.
Hulu has fairly sweeping contracts with ABC, Fox, and NBC when it comes to the shows that are broadcast over the air but do not have guarantees on everything. For example, new episodes of The Blacklist is currently missing from Hulu and is available exclusively through NBC's own streaming service and website. It is possible that, with time, we will see ABC content become equally questionable as to which service will get the rights, despite this behavior being bad for consumers.
The first major project that would have previously appeared on another service, Captain Marvel, will be skipping a Netflix release after the theater and will instead release exclusively on Disney+. The company has not announced an official release timeframe, but based on the Captain Marvel reveal, it will likely be available by the end of 2019. A preview of the service will be made available at a major investor meeting on April 11.