Disney also revealed a standalone ESPN streaming package is on the way in
During a Disney earnings call today, Disney CEO Bob Iger announced plans for a live-action Star Wars TV series and a new trilogy, likely coming after 2020.
The series will apparently be part of the previously announced Disney streaming service. In August, Disney unveiled those plans after it acquired a video-streaming company called BAM Tech. Currently, Disney has an exclusive deal with Netflix for streaming its films and TV series; that deal began in 2012 and expanded last year.
Iger shared a handful of original projects in progress for Disney’s streaming service, however. The first Star Wars live-action TV series rightfully garners headlines, but the CEO also noted series based on Monsters Inc., High School Musical, and a new Marvel property would be coming, too. Further details, like creative teams or time frames, were not shared regarding those projects.
The other major news impacting a galaxy far, far away centers on a familiar name to the Star Wars-universe. Iger said that Rian Johnson, director and screenplay writer for The Last Jedi, has agreed to a deal to create a new Star Wars trilogy down the road (presumably after the current trilogy wraps with the JJ Abrams-led Episode IX in 2019). In a statement to Entertainment Weekly, Lucasfilm said this project would be “separate from the episodic Skywalker saga… Johnson will introduce new characters from a corner of the galaxy that Star Wars lore has never before explored.”
According to MediaPost’s Alex Weprin, Iger revealed some additional, nuts-and-bolts details for Disney’s streaming plans. Disney is open to licensing third-party content, for instance, but it needs to be appropriate for the established brand. Weprin reports that Iger said pricing for the service will be “substantially below where Netflix is.” Netflix recently raised rates on two of its plans in early October, but its entry tier (one SD stream) remains $7.99 per month.
Iger also revealed a separate streaming initiative for the Disney-ABC family: ESPN Plus. Billed as a standalone sports-streaming service, Iger pegged Spring 2018 as a launch date. Details beyond that, such as pricing or what sports would or wouldn’t be available through the app, weren’t available.
Live sports remains one of the last strongholds for those pushing cable subscriptions, though individual sports leagues from the NBA to the MLB have been launching sport-specific streaming apps in recent years. Given the various live-event rights ESPN currently boasts (including things such as NCAA football and basketball, the NFL’s Monday Night Football, and the NBA), a sports-streaming app from the worldwide leader has the potential to offer fans a wider-reaching option than ever before.