Netflix Secures Exclusive Disney Film Deal

In a major pay TV movie deal, Netflix has secured exclusive rights to Walt Disney Studios animated and live-action films, beginning with the 2016 theatrical releases.

The deal gives the online movie service rights to Disney, Disney Animation, Pixar, Marvel and Disneynature films in the premium TV window on multiple platforms, including television, tablets, computers and mobile phones.

Also included in the agreement are Disney direct-to-video new releases, which will be made available on Netflix starting in 2013. In addition, the deal gives Netflix a multi-year catalog deal that brings to Netflix members such classic Disney movies such as Dumbo, Pocahontas and Alice in Wonderland.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

"With this cutting-edge agreement, we are thrilled to take our highly valued relationship with Netflix to the next level by adding Disney's premier films to their programming lineup," Janice Marinelli, president of Disney-ABC Domestic Television, said in a statement. "Netflix continues to meet the demands of its subscribers in today's rapidly evolving digital landscape, and we are delighted that they will have much earlier access to our top-quality and entertaining slate."

The deal is a blow to Starz, which currently holds the rights to Disney Studio film titles into 2017. In a statement the company said: "Our decision not to extend the agreement for Disney output past that time allows us the opportunity to implement our plan to dramatically ramp up our investment in exclusive, premium-quality original series which will best meet the needs of our distributors and subscribers.”

The deal is a major boost to the subscription-based Netflix service, which gets to add exclusive access to new Disney films as well as classic Disney programming to its lineup of theatrical and TV show programming.

"Disney and Netflix have shared a long and mutually beneficial relationship and this deal will bring to our subscribers, in the first pay TV window, some of the highest-quality, most imaginative family films being made today," Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos said in a statement. "It's a bold leap forward for Internet television and we are incredibly pleased and proud this iconic family brand is teaming with Netflix to make it happen."

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.