Star Wars Streaming and Cable Rights Targeted By Disney
Bloomberg is reporting that Disney is currently in hot pursuit of the Star Wars streaming and cable rights from Turner Broadcasting, which currently airs the films on TNT and TBS. Disney inquired about retaining those rights to the movies from Turner, but “met resistance,” and learned that “the programmer would want financial considerations and programming to replace the lost films.” The talks have purportedly stalled for the time being.
Turner purchased the cable and online rights for the Star Wars movies back in 2016 for a reported $275 million in a deal that allows the company to broadcast George Lucas’ classic franchise on its cable networks until 2024. The deal not only encompasses the Original Trilogy from 1977-1983 and Prequel Trilogy from 1999-2005, but also the current films from the Disney years (Force Awakens, Last Jedi, Rogue One, Solo) up-to and including anything currently in production through 2024.
Of course, a lot has happened in regard to Star Wars since 2016. For starters, Disney has developed its own streaming service that is set to launch sometime in 2019 and will serve as an all-in-one package with titles from Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm. Obviously, Disney would love to offer Star Wars upon launch of its streaming service as an added incentive to buyers. The recent acquisition of Fox finally gave Disney complete control over all the Star Wars films, including A New Hope, allowing the company to finally exploit the iconic franchise more fully. But, due to past deals, including a deal struck with Netflix in 2012, the streaming and broadcast rights could be tied up for the foreseeable future.
Disney already announced plans to end its deal with Netflix, though the streaming service may continue to stream Disney films made from 2015-2018 for “quite a long period of time thereafter,” according to Disney CEO Bob Iger. Such films include Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi.
The Turner deal does not include the rights to episodic TV titles such as Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels and the forthcoming Star Wars Resistance and Jon Favreau’s live-action Star Wars series. Those titles will be a huge lure to the Disney streaming service in and of themselves.