Netflix. Amazon. Disney. Let The Games Begin.

Netflix. Amazon. Disney. Let The Games Begin.

Disney announced two big changes in 2017. Firstly, they would be releasing their own streaming service and secondly, they would be buying 21st Century Fox. The former is expected to arrive on our desktops by 2019 and the latter took place for a whopping £39 billion at the end of the year.

This gives Disney ownership of a staggering amount of content. To re-cap the Disney empire; they acquired Pixar in 2006, Marvel in 2009, Lucasfilm in 2012 and now 21st Century Fox.

Looking at the industry, both announcements seemed almost inevitable from Disney. This way, Disney can determine its own future and go straight to consumers. Why is the middle man necessary? By cutting out Netflix and Amazon from the process, Disney has total control of their content, propositions, and consumer journey. Let us also not forget that this is just one more division within an entire ecosystem of entertainment, including theme parks, cinema releases and franchise stores.

And, finally, to add salt to the wound, Disney has directly challenged Netflix, stating that their streaming service will be ‘substantially’ cheaper to subscribe to.

Netflix and Amazon, though, have had a contingency plan in place for a shake-up like this for a while. In 2013 House of Cards premiered on Netflix, followed swiftly by Hemlock Grove and Orange is the New Black. Amazon too took the dive into original content in 2013 (albeit with slightly less known titles than Netflix’s first forays, which proved extremely successful).

Five years ago, then, the streaming powerhouses made a move to commission, produce and own their own original content; to become their own studios. Now in 2018, Netflix will have 80 original films (not counting TV shows) in production, after already having spent $6 billion on original content in 2017 and a billion on promoting that content. What were simply streaming services are now turbo-charged production studios.

Disney caused shockwaves with the announcement that they would start their own streaming service populated with a treasure trove of content. But they shouldn’t feel too comfortable yet.

Disney is not laying siege to their rivals – Netflix and Amazon will look far from starved. As Disney prepares to storm the scene, both are in the best placed position to fight back with their own home grown content.

This is shaping up to be a fascinating battle between who is driving change and who is responding to it.

Rachel Ballard Rachel Ballard