Netflix (NFLX) Signs Exclusive Licensing Agreement With Disney (DIS)

Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) and The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) have announced an exclusive, multi-year licensing agreement for Netflix to become “the” U.S. subscription television service for first-run live-action and animated Disney feature films.

Under the agreement, new titles from Disney, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Studios and Disneynature will be made available to Netflix members beginning with 2016 theatrically released feature films. Direct-to-video new releases will be made available starting in 2013.

Separately, Disney and Netflix have reached agreement on a multi-year catalog deal which makes films like “Dumbo,” “Pocahontas” and “Alice in Wonderland” immediately available to Netflix members.

For Netflix, this exclusive agreement appears to be part of an effort to differentiate itself from competitors. In particular, Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) has been adding content (see our article here) to a degree that could potentially render Netflix irrelevant or at least redundant. It also makes this video-on-demand “Internet television network with more than 30 million members in 40 countries” more competitive with pay TV companies like HBO and Showtime. This agreement deals a particular blow to the pay channel Starz, which previously had the rights to Disney movies.

Most of the competitive advantages won’t kick in until 2016 and even 2017. However, the deal was well-received by investors with the price of NFLX jumping up 14% on a day when both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the NASDAQ Composite Index both fell slightly.

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