ESPN, Disney content streaming services coming soon

By Christie Zizo, Digital Media Producer
Last Updated: Tuesday, August 08, 2017, 5:10 PM EDT

The Walt Disney Company will launch a video streaming service for ESPN next year that promises multi-sport viewing.

  • Disney acquired majority stake in streaming company BAMTech
  • Will launch ESPN multi-sport streaming service in 2018
  • Launch Disney streaming service, end Netflix agreement in 2019

A direct-to-consumer streaming service for Disney content will follow in 2019.

The announcement comes as Disney acquires a majority ownership stake in BAMTech, a company that handles direct-to-consumer streaming technology and marketing services. 

"The media landscape is increasingly defined by direct relationships between content creators and consumers," said Disney CEO Robert Iger in the third quarter earnings report Tuesday. "Our control of BAMTech's full array of innovative technology will give us the power to forge those connections, along with the flexibility to quickly adapt to shifts in the market."

Disney says the ESPN-branded service will feature some 10,000 live regional, national and international games and events a year. Individual sport packages will also be available for purchase. 

"This gives us the ability to launch a new service, one we have been talking about, but it will be more robust than we anticipated," said Iger in a call with investors Tuesday.

Consumers who also are pay TV subscribers will be able to access the app through authentication.

The Disney-branded streaming service will be the exclusive home in the U.S. for Disney and Pixar live and animated films, starting with the 2019 movie slate. That will include the live-action "Lion King," "Frozen 2" and "Toy Story 4."

Disney says it also plans to stream an annual slate of original movies, TV shows and other content exclusive to the app. It will also include titles from the Disney archives, across its movies and television titles.

Disney will end its distribution deal for Disney and Pixar products with Netflix as a result of the new service, starting with 2019. 

Iger says its not known yet whether the streaming service will include Marvel and Lucasfilm products, whether they might stay with Netflix, or whether they will be part of their own streaming services.

The Disney service will happen in the second half of the year.

Disney still needs regulatory approval of the BAMTech acquisition. Once that happens, Iger will serve as chairman of the company's board.