Disney will join Fox and the BBC in pulling content from the streaming service.
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Disney’s plan to launch a broadband-delivered video service featuring its new theatrical films — and the likelihood other media giants will follow suit — could actually result in consumers paying more for the content they want to watch.
The content powerhouse — it owns Pixar, LucasFilm and Marvel as well as its own animation and live-action studio — did not say how much it would charge for its direct-to-consumer subscription service when it arrives in 2019. Or how much it would charge for its ESPN-branded sports service, due to launch in early 2018.
But both will join an already-crowded marketplace of subscription streaming services delivered via the Net. In addition to broadband pay-TV services such as DirecTV Now and Sling TV that deliver “skinny” bundles, there’s Netflix, Amazon Video, Hulu, HBO Go, Showtime, CBS and others. And Discovery’s acquisition of Scripps Networks (The Food Network, HGTV) suggests a similar direct-to-consumer strategy is in the works.
“What gets incrementally harder here is just the array of choices, and that is only going to grow,” said Matthew Thornton, analyst with investment banking firm SunTrust Robinson Humphrey. “You are going to see more of this, and the consumer has to start figuring out … I am trying to save money, but what does my new bundle look like? it can become overwhelming.”
Consumers could easily wind up paying more for their new customized bundle of programming than they did when they subscribed to traditional pay TV, experts say.
Cable, satellite and fiber companies such as AT&T, Comcast, Dish and Verizon currently get about $80 to $85 each month from pay-TV subscribers, according to Leichtman Research.
In contrast, a customer who subscribes to Netflix ($10-$12 monthly) and perhaps HBO ($14.99) and/or Showtime ($10.99) and decides to add the new Disney service — let’s say it’s $15, comparable to HBO — would have amassed a monthly bill of $36 to $53.
But what about Hulu ($7.99-$11.99 monthly), which has its own exclusive series such as The Handmaid’s Tale, and new episodes of broadcast shows such as The Voice and Empire?
And what if you want a sports package such as the new one coming from Disney with more than 10,000 sports events including Major League Baseball, National Hockey…