Disney Will Promote Starz on Disney Plus & ESPN Plus to Regain Streaming Rights to Some Titles

In order to make sure you could stream all Star Wars titles when Disney+ launches next week, Disney had to make a deal with Starz. According to The Verge, in order to regain streaming rights to some titles from Starz, Disney has to run an ad for Starz when a user finishes signing-up on Disney+ and ESPN+.

Once you’re logged in however, the platform is entirely ad-free. The ads are simply a part of a revised licensing deal between Disney and Starz to make sure certain titles are available on Disney+ at launch.

Disney has signed a number of huge licensing deals to Netflix and Starz over the years, and with Disney+ launching Nov. 12, they want to ensure subscribers can stream movies from Marvel, Lucasfilm and Pixar. However, the company needed to regain those streaming rights before they can become available on the streaming service. Many of their hits were “encumbered by licensing arrangements that we have with a number of different entities, notably Netflix and Starz,” Disney CEO Bob Iger said in an investors call in August 2018.

In the case of Starz, which has licenses to Star Wars: The Force Awakens and other Marvel films, Disney has brokered a deal with the network in order to get their streaming rights back. By running an ad after signing up for Disney+ and ESPN+, Disney was able to regain the right to the Star Wars titles. In a statement to The Verge, “Disney has clarified that customers should only see the ad one time, after they finish signing up for Disney+ or ESPN+.”

Disney is also not the only media company in this conundrum. WarnerMedia and NBCUniversal have had to dole out hundreds of millions in order to get streaming rights to their own shows such as Friends, The Office and Parks and Recreation.