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Disney and Netflix: An evolving relationship?

The studio that gave the world Mickey Mouse could be interested in buying the internet streaming service with 86 million subscribers. Fifty years after the death of its founder, Walt Disney, the company could be primed to embark on a new era of digital entertainment.

tv Updated: Nov 30, 2016 15:34 IST
Disney

Daredevil, the first series from Disney’s partnership with Netflix, has a third season in store for 2018.(Netflix)

The studio that gave the world Mickey Mouse could be interested in buying the internet streaming service with 86 million subscribers. Fifty years after the death of its founder, Walt Disney, the company could be primed to embark on a new era of digital entertainment.

Disney has always had a strong TV presence, with a small-screen strategy spanning more than 60 years. In the 1950s, Walt Disney understood the importance of TV and the possibilities the medium offered for the studio’s productions.

It was, in fact, Disney’s 1954 partnership with the ABC network that helped fund the founder’s big project, the Disneyland theme park in California. The American firm went on to buy the network in 1996, and took over several other US TV channels, including Lifetime, The History Channel, A&E Network and the ESPN sports network.

Disney could now be set to enter a new age of digital entertainment with a potential takeover of Netflix, an online content streaming platform available in a host of worldwide locations. This partnership would allow the firm to distribute its own content worldwide, using the global streaming giant’s existing expertise. This would be a quicker and easier solution than developing its own SVOD service.

The two firms already work together closely, thanks to a partnership established in 2013. This sees Netflix screen four Marvel series (Marvel has been part of Disney since 2012): Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist (launching March 17, 2017). A mini-series called The Defenders, featuring all four characters, is also in store.

The studio strengthened its ties with Netflix in September, choosing the platform as the privileged partner for screening productions from Disney, Lucasfilm, Pixar and Marvel, in the USA. It remains to be seen whether the partnership will be extended to the rest of the world in the coming months.

A potential Disney buyout of Netflix remains pure speculation for the time being. However, the studio is maneuvering in a similar way to its rapprochement with Pixar 10 years ago. Disney bought Pixar after several years of close collaboration which gave rise to the movies Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Monsters, Inc. and The Incredibles.

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