Netflix Signs Multi-Year Agreement with Walt Disney Studios

Netflix went out and scored itself a multi-year licensing agreement that will make it the exclusive U.S. subscription television service for first-run live-action and animated feature films from The Walt Disney Studios, the streaming company announced this week.

"Disney and Netflix have shared a long and mutually beneficial relationship and this deal will bring to our subscribers, in the first pay TV window, some of the highest-quality, most imaginative family films being made today," said Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer at Netflix. "It's a bold leap forward for Internet television and we are incredibly pleased and proud this iconic family brand is teaming with Netflix to make it happen."

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This is a pretty significant development, in part because it's the first time Netflix has acquired rights to newer titles from a major Hollywood studio. However, the deal won't really flex its legs until 2016, which is when the partnership hits the ground running with theatrically released feature films being made available to Netflix subscribers in the so-called "pay TV window." Why not sooner? Many of the titles are tied up in an existing licensing deal with Starz, which expires in three years.

In the meantime, direct-to-video new releases will be made available on Netflix starting in 2013.

"With this cutting-edge agreement, we are thrilled to take our highly valued relationship with Netflix to the next level by adding Disney's premier films to their programming line-up," said Janice Marinelli, President, Disney-ABC Domestic Television. "Netflix continues to meet the demands of its subscribers in today's rapidly evolving digital landscape, and we are delighted that they will have much earlier access to our top-quality and entertaining slate."

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, though some unconfirmed reports say Netflix signed a three-year deal in which it will pay more than $300 million annually.