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Why Disney’s Netflix Exclusivity Is a Big Deal

In what is an otherwise not very exciting blog post, astute readers can find a very interesting announcement from Netflix. Coming this September, Netflix will gain exclusive rights to broadcast Disney films on pay TV services. This means that Disney, Marvel, Lucasfilm and Pixar movies won’t be coming to HBO, Epix, Starz or other expensive just-released movie channels; they’ll simply show up on Netflix a few months after leaving theaters.

Considering that Disney movies now include everything from traditional animated films, to Marvel superhero blockbusters, to the culturally monolithic Star Wars series, this is pretty big news. It’s not unexpected, though. Videophiles are probably aware that Netflix and Disney signed a very public deal for just such a prospect back in 2012, although the two companies did not have a hard date on when the plan would go into effect.

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For its own part, Netflix didn’t do much to trumpet the impending arrival of the Disney, Marvel and Star Wars films. In fact, the blog post devotes a grand total of one sentence to it: “From September onwards, Netflix will become the exclusive US pay TV home of the latest films from Disney, Marvel, Lucasfilm and Pixar.”

Which films will be available, whether they’ll rotate in and out of service, how long after their theatrical releases they’ll debut and whether this will change the timeline for DVD or streaming rental releases are still a mystery. The deal probably doesn’t change the fact that other services (like Amazon, iTunes and Google Play) can still rent these movies à la carte at a later time, but if the deal proves successful, Netflix may want to clamp down further over time.

One also wonders how, if at all, this will affect Netflix’s subscription prices. Getting exclusive content from one of the biggest film companies on the planet does not come cheap, which means that the company is probably banking on a lot of new subscriptions as a result. If it doesn’t get them (or even if it does), prices could inflate accordingly. In offering more expensive content, Netflix is going to have to make up the money somewhere.

Either way, Netflix is about to become a very attractive venue for viewers who enjoy kids’ entertainment and/or fantastical adventure films. There is one caveat, however: the Netflix Original movie War Machine, also coming in September, is a Brad Pitt satire about the war on terror and sadly/fortunately, has nothing to do with Iron Man’s belligerent sidekick.