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Disney throws a glove in the war on Netflix

The battle is underway. Walt Disney Co is bringing its biggest weapons to a new broadcast service, including "Star Wars" and the Marvel superheroes, in what is expected to be a war with Netflix and others for domination of television.

The multimedia entertainment giant announced that its Disney + streaming service would be launched in November in the United States and would gradually expand internationally. Subscriptions to the new service should start at $ 6.99 per month, less than Netflix's most basic plan of $ 8.99, the leader in transmission.

Disney + will be packed with blockbuster movies and television shows from Disney's library, including its recently acquired assets from 21st Century Fox. That includes shows and movies from the Pixar animation studios, the Marvel franchise of superheroes like "Spider Man" and "Captain America", the documentaries of National Geographic and, of course, the series "Star Wars".

Disney said it would include the 30 seasons of "The Simpsons," family-friendly titles like "The Sound of Music" and "Malcolm in the Middle" and its upcoming "space opera" series "The Mandalorian."

Analysts say the Disney ad shows no quarter, as it fights Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and an upcoming Apple service.

"The biggest surprise was the price: $ 6.99 per month, which was much lower than many people expected," said Alan Wolk, co-founder of consultancy TVREV. "It is also free of advertising, which was unexpected, since the conventional idea was that they were going to go to a Hulu-style hybrid model, with both advertising and non-advertising options."

Wolk said the programming "is exactly what you would expect from Disney and will attract families with children." He said the content will mean that the new service will not compete directly with Hulu, which is 60 percent owned by Disney.

The move "allows them to position Hulu as their most sharp and adult offer," he said.

Disney has predicted that it will register between 60 and 90 million users in the next five years. Some analysts have said they expect the new Disney service to grow rapidly and eventually exceed Netflix's 140 million subscribers worldwide.

Morningstar analyst Neil Macker said that Disney "came out on its investors' day with an aggressive price point" for its broadcast service.

"We were pleasantly surprised by the content levels" announced at the investor event on Thursday, Macker said. "While it is smaller than Netflix, we believe that the Disney + library will be deeper in terms of quality."

Tuna Amobi of CFRA Research said that Disney + will be launched with "an unparalleled array of branded TV content / movies" and, as a result, "could be a potential game changer in a rapidly evolving broadcast landscape."

Amobi said Disney also has the potential to "package" its new product with Hulu and its recently launched ESPN + sports broadcast service to provide consumers with a greater variety of content.

But some analysts argue that rivals will not face competition and that more agile Internet companies can prevail.

Richard Greenfield, of BTIG Research, pointed out that Disney's adventure could be affected by a long theatrical "window" that keeps movies out of broadcast for months, and by long-standing agreements that give rivals some of their content.

"We wonder how the company will explain what is and what is not available at Disney + both domestically and abroad," Greenfield said in a research note. "Will consumers understand that a new Marvel movie is available in theaters, but not Disney + for eight months?"

John Meyer, an analyst at investment firm Transpire Ventures, said Netflix still has the advantage in the market.

Meyer said Disney can "make a small niche" among families and young viewers, but it does not pose a serious threat to Netflix.

"Netflix now knows what people want more than anyone," Meyer said. "After all, they are a technology company at heart and have tremendous power with the data they capture in their millions of subscribers, which helps them design the original content that needs to be created."

Laura Martin, an analyst at Needham & Co., disagrees and says that Disney with its well-known brands and franchises will eventually overwhelm Netflix.

"We believe that Netflix can not win" such a war due to the advantage of Disney's costs of owning a large amount of content.

"Disney products reach 100 million homes per year, which reduces the acquisition costs of Disney customers," Martin said in a note to customers.

Martin said that in the polls, US customers say they plan to use only two or three streaming services and, as a result, any growth in Disney + will significantly weaken Netflix.

© 2019 AFP

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