Disney Facing 'Resistance' From Turner in Effort to Get TV Rights of 'Star Wars' Films for Streaming Service

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It's been nearly one year since Disney announced that it will pull all of its movies from Netflix and launch its own streaming service in late 2019, including both TV shows and movies from Marvel and Star Wars. This week, however, Bloomberg reports that the company is facing troubles with the TV rights to the Star Wars film franchise, dating back to a deal it made with Turner Broadcasting in 2016.


Under that agreement, Turner gained the linear basic cable and companion ad-supported on-demand rights to five of the six Star Wars films released between 1977 and 2005 (The Empire Strikes Back to Revenge of the Sith), as well as the new films that began releasing in 2015 (as of now including The Force Awakens, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, The Last Jedi, and Solo: A Star Wars Story). With these rights, which also includes A New Hope rights inked in a deal with 20th Century Fox, Turner has been airing the Star Wars movies on networks like TNT and TBS, and its deal with Disney grants it the ability to keep doing so until 2024.

Now that Disney is planning its own dedicated streaming service, however, the company wants these rights back so it can be the sole location for users to find and stream the entire Star Wars canon. To do so, Disney has made a "preliminary inquiry" about regaining the rights, but has "met resistance" from Turner, according to people familiar with the matter.

Turner would reportedly want financial considerations and programming to replace the Star Wars films it would lose, but the talks have yet to advance. If Disney doesn't get the rights back, its streaming service would be missing one of the main franchises that many users would be signing up for, although new Star Wars content could appear, such as numerous Star Wars TV shows "specifically" created for the service.

As we get near the launch of Disney's direct-to-consumer app, more of its films have begun disappearing from Netflix, including titles like Finding Dory this month. In regards to Star Wars, Bloomberg reports that Disney's deal with Netflix for recent Star Wars films -- including the currently-streaming Star Wars: The Last Jedi -- will expire "at the end of this year."

Similar to Disney, Apple is on the hunt to fill its own upcoming streaming TV service with an instant catalog of existing shows and potentially even movies. Apple hasn't discussed its streaming service as much as Disney, however, so it's still unclear how it will launch, how much it will be (Disney says its own will be priced "substantially below" Netflix), and when exactly users will be able to watch the first TV shows beyond sometime after March 2019.

At the same time that Disney attempts to negotiate the TV rights to the Star Wars films back into its fold, the company is nearing completion on its $71.3 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox's entertainment assets, which will provide another influx of content for its streaming service.

Top Rated Comments

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27 months ago
I am not looking forward to this new world where you have to subscribe to 10 different streaming services to see the desired content. I think the best advice is just to avoid them all until they do sharing agreements.
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
27 months ago
Turner has Disney over a barrel and rightfully so. Disney agreed in 2016 (!) to a long term deal. Everybody knew streaming was the future in 2016. Turner should hold out for big money and big programming.

Off topic... damn I hope the merger lets Disney issue original versions of the original trilogy... I’m not buying or streaming the “special editions” any more...
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
27 months ago

I am not looking forward to this new world where you have to subscribe to 10 different streaming services to see the desired content. I think the best advice is just to avoid them all until they do sharing agreements.

They had that. It was called cable or satt service: one fee for content from nearly all providers.

We the consumers then started wishing that away, deluded by some idea that we should be able to buy only the channels we want to watch for a huge discount off of the 200-500 channel bundled pricing. Of course, no other player in the chain wanted to do that... nor has to do that.

So now, we continue marching toward a point where we'll be spending MORE than we were before for less available content... or spending less but doing without ready access to stuff we actually would have historically enjoyed being able to watch and/or other compromises, especially to quality of programming (stuff like Dolby Digital sound, full-featured DVR functions, etc).

With this Disney move, it appears that maybe 2 or 3 companies will end up controlling almost all of the video content, much like 2 or 3 companies pretty much dominate the cellular service space. Elimination of healthy competition typically leads to consumers paying more... often for less (because where you going to go?). Example right here in this topic: Disney is wanting to become the lone source of Star Wars content. If you really want access to that via stream, you will HAVE to be a subscriber to Disney. Other players like Comcast and AT&T are very likely to be buying big libraries to basically do the same kind of thing: "If you want what we have, you HAVE to buy it from us." As Apple people well aware of exclusivity and "lock in" concepts, we know how that goes very well... and how relatively expensive that can be.

Cheaper options like Netflix will lose more desirable content to the big dogs that are rolling their own Netflix-like services (but NOT at a Netflix-like price). I expect the cheap options to die not because they can't function at current pricing but because access to the desirable content will be monetized accordingly... and only available from one source elsewhere.

Many of us celebrated Disney's purchase of Fox but that also gives Disney 60% ownership of Hulu. Care to guess where Hulu traditional cheaper pricing will go after the deal is fully done?

Disney is much like Apple in terms of wanting to be paid top dollar for their products, and flexing their muscles to create lock-in exclusivity so they can be the only source. Around here, many seem to wish away the Spotifys, the Samsungs, the PC vendors, the Microsofts, the Google's etc as if Apple gaining complete control over stuff that currently has competition would be great for us consumers. And if that happened? Apple would charge whatever it wants and we would whine about how expensive it is... just as we often do now when there are at least SOME competitors. This will go the same way.

I saw some information that said the typical US household spends about $73/month on television service (cable/satt). The cord cutter crowd has some delusion of getting what they want for much less than whatever they used to pay for cable or satt. However, the suppliers look at a number like $73/month/household and work hard every day on how to GROW that number. Their goal is to pull that up... just like Apple looking to pull up how much each iPhone buyer spends on new iPhones + increasingly near-necessary accessory items.

Disney is positioning to make streaming video much more profitable. As we know from Apple experiences, "much more profits" don't come from pockets other than our own. The squeeze is coming soon. I suspect we'll soon realize in full that our "savings" gets us much less than we used to get and that "the future" options to approximate the old, "antiquated", "rip off" options will prove more expensive on a per month, per household basis.

If so, the moral of the story is a very, very old one: Be careful what you wish for.
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Here is an idea: make 1 single streaming service that provides all movies and all series, instead of tens smaller ones.

This part is possible. And Apple has largely already set up just such a service many years ago. The problem?

Pay 20-30-50 bucks per month and that’s it.

Nobody else in the supply channel is motivated to take the HUGE hit to deliver everything for cheaper. That's OUR delusion. We believe we can somehow get that.

We might as well extrapolate that out with expectations of new iPhones for- say- $100 and new MB Pros for- say- $100 too. It's basically the same. Apple as creators and owners of their products want to make a target revenue + profit from their creations. And creators and owners of video content want to do the exact same thing. Just as Apple won't arbitrarily decide to give us huge discounts so we can buy new iDevices and Macs at dirt-cheap prices, so it goes for owners of other kinds of products too.

The single service with everything is attainable if we are willing to pay up big for that. Apple has actually been pretty close to that for many years now.

However, if we demand a relatively large discount off of normal for cable/satt, we should expect significant compromises, lack of availability, fragmented sources, etc... pretty much exactly as this is unfolding. There is no magical player- Apple included- who can bring everything to us for nearly nothing in cost.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
27 months ago

I am not looking forward to this new world where you have to subscribe to 10 different streaming services to see the desired content. I think the best advice is just to avoid them all until they do sharing agreements.

I laugh every time I read a comment similar to yours regarding subscription to multiple services.

It was not too long ago that a lot of members here and online elsewhere were yelling about a la carte content. Specifically buying “channels” separately. I and other got shouted down when we said that wouldn’t work out how they imagined. That it would be expensive.

Now what we have said is coming through.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
27 months ago
Bottom line, if you want to see Star Wars movie just buy the Blu ray, use the download code included and watch it when you want to...over and over again.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
27 months ago

They had that. It was called cable or satt service: one fee for content from nearly all providers.

We the consumers then started wishing that away, deluded by some idea that we should be able to buy only the channels we want to watch for a huge discount off of the 200-500 channel bundled pricing. Of course, no other player in the chain wanted to do that... nor has to do that.

This Disney approach is not a la carte tv at all. Disney is pulling all content into a separate provider, with a separate subscription.

What I find now, is that it is more satisfying to go outside, walk around, talk to the neighbors, etc. than watch TV with its Fake News, and movies that are more propaganda than entertaining. I know that has nothing to do with Disney's new subscription service, except that they, and other media providers, value their service much more than I do.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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