As always when one door closes another Google Chrome Window opens. It’s a sentiment that online streaming giant Netflix can only attest to.
The last couple of days have seen a real shift in gears for the platform that has repositioned its relationship with Disney from one of friendly co-habitants of the VOD space to one of head on competitor in the battle for consumer’s affection.
It was only yesterday that Disney declared it was severing its ties with Netflix as the entertainment giant prepares to launch its own online offering. Disney is now set to introduce two of its online streaming services for sports and family films – choosing to go it alone over offering its content through the Netflix distribution channel.
Sources cite that the move was made amid falling subscriptions and ‘increased challenges’ from the likes of Netflix and Amazon. However, considering that the platform recently announced better than expected numbers of subscribers – hitting 104 million – with the majority share emerging from international markets, the move by Disney could seem like quite the snub.
Will it have ramifications within the licensing industry? Well, most certainly it will, depending on Netflix’s change in strategy towards developing more original series and content in its bid to fill the void left by the departing Disney.
In a pre-emptive strike against the Studio, it would seem that Netflix already has. At a time in which the world’s biggest entertainment studios are pouring their investment in to the ‘universe’ structure, Netflix has followed suit.
Disney kick-started the trend with its Marvel franchise, building a universe of characters that enjoy the ability to dip in and out of blockbuster movies, spin-offs, TV series and of course consumer product roll-outs with more freedom than a pre-Brexit Europe. Stand alone films have now become a ‘thing’ of anticipation. How many of us can’t wait to see the new Han Solo movie, drawing on the Star Wars lore – Disney’s latest move in the ‘universe’ stakes?
The move was – eventually – followed by DC Comics and Warner Brothers with the creation of the DC Universe, one comprised of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Suicide Squad and an inevitable whole lot more to come.
Each has impacted heavily upon the consumer products market. The NPD Group recently declared that LEGO Batman was recently declared the most popular iteration of the Caped Crusader within the super hero toy population.
Following Netflix’s recent acquisition of the Scottish comic company, Millarworld – creators of titles like Kickass and Kingsman – it would appear that the platform has designs of its own to transform Mark Millar’s one-time nerdy comic book rollout into a multibillion-dollar film franchise.
It’s not an inconceivable concept either. Millarworld has, after all, developed 18 character franchises of its own through comic books – and while the big three: Wanted, Kick-Ass and Kingsman – have already made the jump to the big screen licensed to separate producers, that’s still leaves a lot for Netflix to play around with.
Millarworld’s Jupiter’s Legacy or Huck and Duke McQueen maybe relatively unknown to the mainstream audience, but Netflix is not adverse to investing in its original content. Look at the success of House of Cards, Orange is the New Black and Stranger Things.
Now, couple the Millarworld acquisition with Netflix’s recent launch of a consumer products division, it doesn’t take much stretch of the imagination to spot what plans the platform may have for the licensing industry.
Could this be big business within our own sector of the entertainment space? That remains to be seen but it does present a very exciting landscape to keep an eye on.
And what of the Disney-Netflix relationship? Well, neither appear too quick to burn all bridges and Netflix has suggested that its own ties with the Marvel universe – namely through its distribution of the likes of the Daredevil and Jessica Jones series – is likely to go unaffected.