Disney is kicking off 2019 with a couple of major headlines. The company’s streaming service, Disney+, is set to kick off toward the end of the year, with Joe Earley, a former Fox exec, as the Executive Vice President of Marketing and Operations. Both are pretty big news for Disney and the television industry as a whole.
Who is Joe Earley?
Earley served as the Chief Operating Officer for the Fox TV Group, leading successful marketing campaigns for shows like Glee, New Girl and Empire. After 21 years at Fox, Earley left his post there to join The Jackal Group, a production venture between Gail Berman and the Fox TV Group, as President.
At Jackal, Earley was able to focus his efforts on producing, telling Deadline that “I started in the business with the goal of being a producer. Through those great opportunities (at Fox) over the years, I’ve led myself further and further from that goal, so I wanted to go back and have experience on the creative side.”
Earley’s mixed experience as producer and marketer is likely the exact reason Disney tapped him for this position. Disney+’s video streaming won’t be able to survive on dreams and Disney films alone, not when the standard for streaming TV is maturing into a mixed ecosystem of old favorites and new platform originals.
Disney+ is Still a Bit of a Mystery
Set to launch near the end of 2019, the long-awaited Disney+ streaming service has become the subject of plenty of rumors.
From what’s playing to what it’ll cost and even if it will be bundled with other Disney streaming services, the Disney buzz is loud right now. There are a lot of questions about the service, but there are a few pieces of information< that the company has made public:
- It will be cheaper than Netflix. How much cheaper and which Netflix package are still in question, since Netflix has packages as low as $8 per month for Standard Definition programming. Even if it’s only less expensive than Netflix’s Ultra HD package, the service will likely be on par with the lower definition Netflix packages.
- There’s a chance it will be part of a Disney bundle. Disney owns a majority stake in Hulu and ESPN. CEO Bob Iger has suggested there’s a possibility that the three streaming services may be bundled and offered at a discounted group rate.
- There will be some old and some new. Disney has yet to announce what will be on its streaming service, but it’s a good bet that content will come from the studio’s own back catalog, as well as programming from Fox assets like National Geographic. Disney is also planning originals, including new additions to the Star Wars, Marvel, Monster’s Inc. and High School Musical franchises.
- Star Wars films won’t all be available. Because Disney sold the broadcast and streaming rights to the first six Star Wars films in 2016 to Turner Broadcasting, Disney will have to wait until 2024 to release them to Disney+.
Going Head to Head with Netflix
There are plenty of people afraid that Disney+ means that Netflix is going to lose popular programming like the Disney movie Moana and Disney’s various Marvel productions that include The Avengers films.
There’s nothing to worry about yet, Netflix has a deal with Disney for this favored content through at least the end of 2019. As it sits, the Disney properties that Netflix does stream hit theaters in 2016 or later, so the damage will be minimal even if Netflix were to lose them.
What’s more of a concern is whether or not Disney+ is going to be a direct competitor to Netflix and other services like Amazon Prime. If the streaming ecosystem has shown anything, it’s that there’s still a lot of room for new blood. Ultimately, cord cutters will choose a few highly specific services that carry the kind of content they want to see or broaden their horizons and choose generalists like the Netflix and Amazons of the world.