Netflix makes M&A move to lessen dependence on Disney and other content producers
Netflix Inc.'s (Nasdaq: NFLX) first company acquisition may have a lasting effect on the media landscape for years to come. The digital streaming network's purchase of Millarworld, brings Mark and Lucy Millar into the fold with their comic book publishing company. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Millarworld brings a portfolio of character franchises to Netflix that could be developed into the film format, a television series, and even kid-friendly content. The introduction of new character franchises could have a huge impact on the audiences that the DC and Marvel universes draw.
In fact, one day after the Millarworld deal went public, Disney (NYSE: DIS) CEO Bob Iger stated that the company will pull all of its movies from Netflix, with plans of launching its own streaming service provider in 2019. The move was announced during Disney's third quarter 2017 earnings call, and would include the removal of Marvel, Pixar and Disney film titles. Despite the vague details surrounding plans for the new streaming service provider, Iger stated that the company will also launch its ESPN streaming service in early 2018. To power the ESPN-branded network, Disney is paying $1.58 billion for a majority stake in BAMTech. Disney previously owned a 33 percent stake in BAMTech, which was spun off from digital media company MLB Advanced Media in August 2016.
Netflix losing content from Disney, one of the largest suppliers of entertainment content, may have been foreshadowed by the company's executives. Over recent years, Netflix has shifted its business strategy from acquiring streaming rights to buying original content and building its own portfolio of self-produced titles. The foresight by the streaming service provider reduces the impact of Disney's announced plans to remove its content from the digital network.
“We look forward to creating new Netflix Originals from several existing franchises as well as new super-hero, anti-hero, fantasy, sci-fi and horror stories Mark and his team will continue to create and publish,” states Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos about the Millarworld deal.
Mark Millar is a graphic novelist who worked at Marvel for approximately eight years, helping to develop the comic books and story arcs behind the first Avengers movie, Captain America Civil War, and Logan, which collectively grossed more than $3 billion in box office revenue worldwide. Millarworld has given birth to eighteen published character worlds, which include Wanted, Kick-Ass, and Kingsman. Those three films have grossed nearly $1 billion in the global box office alone. As part of the agreement, Millarworld will also continue to concept new stories and character franchises under the Netflix label.
Founded in 1997, Netflix is an entertainment streaming service provider that allows users to watch some of their favorite movies and television shows online using a smart TV, game console, laptop, tablet or other mobile device. The company recently introduced offline capabilities where a user can download their favorite shows to their preferred device to access while not connect to the Internet.
M&A involving television programming and cable operations have begun to pick up, as media conglomerates seek to own the best OTT streaming platform with the best content. Recent media deals include: Discovery Communications’ (Nasdaq: DISCA) purchase of Scripps Networks Interactive (Nasdaq: SNI) for $11.9 billion; Shanghai Media Group Pictures’ deal with BBC Worldwide to acquire the rights to the television drama series ‘Doctor Who’; Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc.’s (Nasdaq: SBGI) purchase of Tribune Media Co. (NYSE: TRCO) for about $3.9 billion; media billionaire Rupert Murdoch’s, through his company 21st Century Fox Inc., deal to acquire European pay-TV provider Sky Plc for nearly $14.6 billion; Moore Frères & Company’s completed purchase of Opera TV for its over-the-top (OTT) video streaming software; and AMC Networks’ $65 million investment in RLJ Entertainment Inc. (Nasdaq: RLJE), a company backed BET founder Robert L. Johnson.