As Disney is readying to launch its Disney+ streaming service later this year, one thing it has already begun doing is pulling back content from other streaming services like Netflix to exclusively have it for its own service. Will rivals WarnerMedia and Comcast/NBCUniversal do the same? Maybe not according to Comcast CEO Brian Roberts.
During an appearance at Morgan Stanley’s Technology, Media & Telecom Conference in San Francisco this week, Roberts says the launch of NBCUniversal’s ad-supported streaming service will not prompt them to pull back on third-party licensing of their product – at least “not in any dramatic way”.
Licensing of content is a big revenue stream for studios and Disney is forgoing a ton of revenue to retain exclusivity to its product. Comcast is taking the most cautious approach of the big three with its service, but in doing so it comes at the cost of potential customers who can get the content they want from other sources and see no use for the service.
Could Comcast change its mind? Roberts says their streaming strategy will blend third-party licensing with holding back some content. That echoes comments by AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson who said WarnerMedia intends to adopt a similar ‘two-sided model’ determined on a case-by-case basis.
Roberts says: “Our thinking going in is, we have an awful lot of content. Some of it will monetize best being on an advertising platform, others will monetize best being on a third-party platform. We’re very much focused on not just, as others have said, going completely cold turkey and taking it off all these other platforms. I don’t think that’s our mindset at the moment. We like those relationships.”
Both Disney and WarnerMedia plan to launch before year’s end and while an early 2020 launch for Comcast’s service has been floated, Roberts says date-wise: “we’ll refine it as it goes”.