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No more Family Guy on Netflix?
Disney, which two weeks ago announced a deal to buy $52.4 billion of Fox TV and movie assets, has made clear its intention to go head-to-head with Netflix, saying it plans to yank its Disney movies and TV shows from the streaming giant in 2019 for its own soon-to-be-launched service.
Once it owns Fox franchises that come with the deal — including movies like Avatar and TV series such as Family Guy — it may have the incentive to take these off Netflix, as well.
Some shows produced by 20th Century Fox Television — and due to be acquiredby Disney should the deal go through — have already begun to leave Netflix as their agreements with the service have expired. Among them: House M.D., recent seasons of Family Guy and all nine seasons of How I Met Your Mother (which Fox produced even though it aired on CBS).
A few of these shows, including How I Met Your Mother, have made their way to Hulu, which as part of the Fox deal will see Disney become a majority owner. (Currently, Disney, Fox and Comcast, which owns NBCUniversal, each own 30%, while Time Warner owns 10%.)
For others, it is expected that Fox won’t renew deals with Netflix or strike long-term deals with other providers as it waits for the Disney deal to be closed.
21st Century Fox declined to comment.
In a statement provided to USA TODAY, Netflix acknowledged that this is just a part of the business. “TV series always come and go on Netflix,” said a company spokesperson. “Some of the older Fox series are going.”
In a recent interview with Bloomberg, Disney CEO Bob Iger confirmed his plan to keep content for its streaming platform, both what it currently owns and hopes to acquire in the Fox deal, even influencing the current deals Fox might make during the interim period before it closes the acquisition.
“We’re going to be looking at more direct-to-consumer opportunities for our company,” Iger said, referencing Disney’s upcoming streaming service. “And if that requires us to wean the businesses of their (Fox) relationships with other distributors then that’s what we’ll do. Just as we did with Netflix.”
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For cord cutters, these moves won’t happen quickly.
Disney’s current agreement with Netflix means you’ll still see new Disney films and shows appear on Netflix until 2019. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, a blockbuster released by Disney-owned Marvel Studios in May, was just added to Netflix this month.
Fox has a similar agreement with HBO that was signed in 2012. So Fox films that are part of the Disney deal, including the recently-released movies based on Marvel characters Deadpool and Logan as well as new films set to be released in the coming years, will appear on the cable channel and its HBO Now streaming service through 2022.
After that, it will presumably be up to Disney where they appear next.
HBO did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Eventually, analysts expect Disney and Fox shows will more likely find a home on Hulu or Disney’s own service than on Netflix or HBO.
It can get confusing because, occasionally, studio production companies sell content to other networks, even ones they don’t own, in order to maximize profit. “Fox Television production produces product for other networks (i.e. This Is Us is produced and owned by Fox but licensed to NBC),” said Neil Begley, Moody’s lead analyst for both Fox and Disney, in an email conversation.
But Disney may hold on tighter to its growing content library with its own service in the works.
“Disney has been smarter recently as it considers the longer-term risk ramifications and opportunities in not gravitating to the highest bidder,” Begley said.
Follow Eli Blumenthal on Twitter @eliblumenthal