In what is a huge coup for internet video-on-demand service Netflix, the company have acquired exclusive US rights to movies from Walt Disney Studios, making a huge statement about their ambition and putting them right in competition with heavy hitter HBO and Showtime.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the three year agreement will come into effect from 2016 and means that Netflix can upload movies, including its Pixar and Marvel films, eight months after they’ve hit the cinemas. It’s a blow to pay channel Starz which currently own the rights and was hoping to hold on to them; it means they now only have Sony’s rights for movies, with that arrangement ending in 2016.
Understandably Netflix's chief content officer, Ted Sarandos, was pretty excited. He called the deal "a bold leap forward for Internet television”, adding "We are incredibly pleased and proud this iconic family brand is teaming with Netflix to make it happen.” Until this point, Netflix only had exclusive film rights with independent studios such as Relativity Media and DreamWorks Animation – though it does have non-exclusive deals with the likes of Paramount Pictures and Lionsgate. However, the signing of Disney is huge, especially given that the major studio has just acquired George Lucas’ Star Wars empire for some $4.05 billion. This might not even be closed shop either, with reports suggesting Netflix have their eye on a number of other potential targets.