Disney and Sony have just signed an expensive new deal which will give the Mouse House the rights to show Sony’s new theatrical releases from 2022-2026 in the United States across any Disney-owned streaming platform and network, including Disney+, Hulu, ABC, Freeform, FX, National Geographic, and Disney Channels. The five-year deal kicks in during the post-Pay 1 TV window…and if you’re wondering what exactly that means, and how it relates to a recent deal that Sony just signed with Netflix, read on and we’ll break it all down.
Before we get into the specifics of this new Disney Sony deal, here’s a quick explanation of release windows. In normal, non-pandemic times, after a film finishes its theatrical run, there’s a standard VOD window in which the movie is released on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD. Then it enters what’s referred to as the “Pay 1 TV window,” where pay TV channels like Showtime or HBO and subscription services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, etc. can license the ability to play the film for their subscribers. After that, there’s a Pay 2 TV window, in which those channels could potentially pay a smaller licensing fee to continue playing the movie, or different premium channels that didn’t license the film the first time could get into the mix and pay to license it as well. Typically, this ladder ends with the broadcast TV window, which is why it often takes years before you see a big movie trickle down to air in prime time on a widely-seen free channel like ABC.
Earlier this month, Sony struck a deal with Netflix for its new releases to stream on that platform in the Pay 1 window. So Sony’s new 2022 films should arrive on Netflix about 18 months after they premiere in theaters. This new Disney/Sony deal is for the windows after Pay 1, and at that point, the titles will transfer from Netflix to Disney and can be disseminated according to Disney’s whims across whatever platforms the studio owns.
This deal involves “a robust collection of Sony Pictures’ Universe of Marvel Characters films,” including Spider-Man: Homecoming, Spider-Man: Far From Home, Venom, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and the upcoming Morbius, and it also includes “a significant number” of Sony’s library titles, like the Jumanji and Hotel Transylvania franchises. Interestingly, while the bulk of this deal doesn’t take effect until 2022 (or beyond), “the agreement provides Hulu access to a significant number of library titles as early as this June,” so that should be a nice boost of that service’s offerings.
But the aspect I imagine most fans will care about the most is being able to finally see the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe on one streaming service, since the Tom Holland Spidey films have not previously been available on Disney+. Organization-brains of the world, rejoice!
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