Sony Pictures Streaming Deals: Pay-TV Window Shattered, and Disney Plays Second Fiddle to Netflix

NEWS ANALYSIS — While some of the headlines surrounding Sony Pictures’ movie streaming deal with Disney revolve around the future availability of the Spider-Man franchise on Disney+ and Hulu, buried in the details are two important facts: The agreement is secondary to the studio’s mega-pact with Netflix. It also turns the traditional pay-TV movie window on its ear.

For Sony Pictures — which unlike other major studios, does not have its own branded streaming video service — the Disney deal affords the studio incremental revenue opportunity on catalog and new-release movies.

The agreement — which, similar to the Netflix deal, covers new theatrical titles released from 2022 to 2026 — will only make the titles available on Disney+ and Hulu, in addition to Disney’s ABC, Disney Channels, Freeform, FX and National Geographic channels, after their availability on Netflix. How long that wait will be isn’t clear, with some reports suggesting at least a year delay.

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Netflix, however, gets access to upcoming Sony releases Morbius, starring Oscar winner Jared Leto, and Uncharted, featuring “Spider-Man” actor Tom Holland, about six to nine months after their 2022 theatrical and home entertainment debuts. Sony is also producing movies for Netflix.

“This … establishes a new source of first-run films for Netflix movie lovers,” said the streamer’s Scott Stubler.

Both agreements significantly alter the existing Pay 1 TV window currently operated by Starz, HBO, Epix, FX and Showtime, among others.

Michael Pachter, media analyst with Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles, says the Starz deal has been an eight-year window, but believes Netflix may have a much shorter exclusive — despite reportedly paying Sony $1 billion over the course of the agreement.

“Without seeing the terms, it’s clear that Netflix isn’t getting as good a deal as the headline/hype suggested earlier this month,” Pachter said. “People assumed Pay 1 window meant the same as HBO/Starz/Epix for eight years, and the Disney deal suggests it is a lot shorter than that.”

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