Potential STAN and DISNEY+ deal set to dramatically change Australian Media Industry

There is more speculation in the media today regarding the future of streaming platforms STAN and DISNEY+, and the flow-on effects for other Australian media players, including NINE and FOXTEL.

DISNEY is yet to confirm its Australian plans for the new streaming venture Disney+. But its expected arrival next year is already causing waves across the Australian media industry.

DISNEY currently has a 12-month contract to licence content including Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel to the NINE owned streaming platform STAN. That contract is set to expire in December.

Max Mason in AFR is today reporting negotiations are continuing between DISNEY and STAN which could see the two businesses merge or work together into the future.

STAN currently has 1.6 million subscribers in Australia, and its infrastructure and established customer base could be utilised by DISNEY to accelerate the launch of Disney+.

The negotiations could also see HULU and FOX content (both now owned by Disney) find a new Australian home on STAN.

TV Blackbox is also aware of industry speculation regarding DISNEY launching a free-to-air broadcast channel on the NINE platform. The ABC has proven there is still a strong market for childrens programming in Australia, and NINE is keen to expand its multi-channel line-up to match SEVEN.

The potential new channel would likely broadcast older DISNEY library content currently distributed by FOXTEL. Moving this content to free-to-air would allow DISNEY to maximise advertising revenue while also providing a strong base to promote Disney+ and upcoming cinematic releases.

While DISNEY, NINE and STAN are all refusing to comment publicly regarding the potential of new partnership between the media organisations, TV Blackbox understands STAN remains quietly confident of locking in a long-term partnership with DISNEY.

Last week, DISNEY confirmed it would offer US subscribers the option to bundle Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ for US$12.99 per month. The new package would be available from launch on November 12.

In a recent interview with SMH, FOXTEL CEO, Patrick Delany confirmed he expected Disney's broadcast channels to be removed from the pay-tv platform once Disney+ launches in Australia;

"We certainly know their plans in relation to Disney-branded material, that is all going to go to Disney+."

FOXTEL remains hopeful of maintaining a DISNEY presence on its platform. After recently integrating NETFLIX programming into its IQ3/IQ4 set-top boxes, it now hopes to extend the strategy to Disney+.

"Clearly, our customers would like Disney content on Foxtel, so if we can reach a deal with Disney to integrate the Disney+ app I think that would be great," stated Delany recently.

FOXTEL customers would be required to pay for the additional Disney+ subscription to access the content.

Disney+ is set to launch in the US this November with around 300 movies and 7,500 TV episodes drawn from the company's library of programming plus its forthcoming originals, such as Star Wars live-action series The Mandalorian. Disney's CEO, Bob Iger last week stated;

"We will launch in international markets very quickly. Two (countries) are going to launch around the same time (as the US). Over the next two to three years, we're going to roll out in a number of other markets."