Sony Pictures makes a deal with Disney, too
After Netflix, Disney Plus and other services will get future releases as well as catalog titles
Mere days after the ink has dried on the Sony Pictures-Netflix deal regarding the former's movies from 2022 onward, the Japanese company makes a similar - actually even broader - deal with Hollywood behemoth Disney. The latter will gain access to not just future Sony Pictures films but also a number of catalog titles for Disney Plus as well as for other Disney properties such as Hulu, FX, ABC, Disney Channels and Freeform too. This US-only content licensing agreement will run from January 1st, 2022 all the way through Sony Pictures' 2026 theatrical slate, so in practice until March 2027.
The multi-billion-dollar question, of course, is "How does this deal not clash with the Netflix agreement announced a few days ago?". It's all about timing. Netflix gets to be included in the post-theatrical release window of every upcoming Sony film, while Disney will follow. So now the order of appearance for every new Sony movie will be: theaters first, then paid rentals and purchases (e.g. iTunes), then Netflix, then Disney. It's not exactly clear whether Sony films will remain in Netflix's library after appearing there, even after they appear on Disney Plus, or whether they will have to leave Netflix's library in order to appear in Disney's.
It's fair to say that by the time Netflix's subscribers - 210 million and counting - are done with a Sony Pictures film, its value is greatly diminished. But chances are that Disney looks at this in a different way: its desire is to have as many of Marvel's properties, such as Spider-man or Venom, in its Disney Plus catalog as possible and this deal achieves that long-term. There are many other Sony franchises that fit Disney Plus's programming, such as the Hotel Transylvania or Jumanji films, as well as past Sony films and TV shows that fit Disney's other properties, especially Hulu and FX. It's a win-win for both companies, just as the Sony-Netflix deal is.
Analysts estimate that those two content agreements together will bring in more than 3 billion dollars worth of licensing revenue for Sony in the next six years, which is not at all bad considering that Sony probably reserved the right to offer its films and TV shows through its own streaming service (such as the newly launched Bravia CORE for instance). It will be very interesting to see whether Sony will now deem it worthwhile to build its own Netflix/Disney Plus competitor in the next three years or so.
In any case, all this serves as further proof of the fact that the movie business is now changing not just incredibly fast but irreversibly so. Deals like these two between Sony, Disney and Netflix would have been much harder to make "in the good old days" of the traditional box office business model. One can only speculate as to how things in the film industry will look like by the time the Sony-Disney deal expires in March 2027. Better? Worse? Certainly different!