Google Signs Deal to Bring Disney Video to Android Devices

Walt Disney Studios has signed an agreement with Google to enable the streaming of Disney's video productions to Android devices. Disney had previously only allowed distribution of its content via Apple iTunes store.

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The Walt Disney Studios announced today that they have agreed to release their movie portfolio for streaming onto Android platforms. Movies will be accessed through "Disney Movies Anywhere," a service that has been exclusively available from Disney's long-time partner, Apple.

Content from Disney, Pixar and Marvel that has been purchased by the user can be streamed onto devices running Android under this agreement. That includes items bought online from both Google Play and the iTunes store. There are currently more than 400 items available for purchase.

The agreement underscores the rapidly changing environment of media delivery to the home. Both HBO and CBS have announced services, but the Disney deal has the added cachet that Disney is known to be the most conservative major company in the movie industry when it comes to intellectual property access.

A decade ago, Disney was taking care to release some movies such as "Snow White" on seven or more year cycles to prevent overloading the market, and until the Apple deal in February had resisted Internet release.

"Disney has always kept very tight control of their movie properties, so a move to allow streaming must reflect their confidence that piracy isn't a major concern,” said Dan Olds of Gabriel Consulting Group. "These are the most-watched videos in the market. My kids wore out the video tapes. These deals are going to kill off the DVD."

Google has succeeded in cozying up to a market leader with some of the most-watched films in the industry, especially by kids and grandmas. This comes as Google is pushing into the TV business with products like Chromecast. This will give viewers a seamless access across mobile platforms and TV. A movie will cost around $20 at the Google Play store, which should be low enough to deter piracy.

The overall effect of major players signing up for direct, Internet-delivered services is a major threat to the traditional cable vendors. With services like Netflix and BBC’s iPlayer growing fast, a la carte video delivery could rapidly become standard.

It's likely Showtime and Cinemax will soon join HBO in offering a service outside of the cable bundlers. They have infrastructure in place to do so and can't stand on the sidelines as this trend evolves. Similarly, CBS has thrown down the gauntlet in the traditional broadcasting segment, too.

In terms of monetization, Disney has several options to potentially expand its business. A Netflix- or HBO-like subscription service could find a lot of interest from potential viewers.

Again, the target market segments tend to be very young, but their willingness to watch over and over again guarantees that they'll stay subscribers for years. A subscription costing "$9.99 would be a no-brainer for mothers and grandmas to pay to get their kids their favorite movies!" said Olds. "Expect some evolution as confidence in the approach builds."