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Disney Throws Down Gauntlet In War On Netflix

WASHINGTON: The battle is on. Walt Disney Co. is bringing its biggest weapons to a new streaming service, including “Star Wars” and Marvel superheroes, in what is expected to be bruising war with Netflix and others for television dominance.

The media-entertainment colossus announced its Disney+ streaming service would launch in November in the United States and gradually expand internationally.

The new service’s subscriptions are due to start at $6.99 per month — less than streaming leader Netflix’s most basic $8.99 plan.

Disney+ will be packed with blockbuster movies and TV shows from the Disney library, including its recently acquired assets from 21st Century Fox.

That includes shows and films from Pixar animation studios, the Marvel franchise of superheroes like “Spider Man” and “Captain America,” National Geographic documentaries and of course the “Star Wars” series.

Disney said it would include all 30 seasons of “The Simpsons,” family-friendly titles like “The Sound of Music,”and “Malcolm in the Middle” and its forthcoming “space opera”series “The Mandalorian.”

Analysts says Disney’s announcement shows it is giving no quarter as it battles Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and an upcoming service from Apple.

“The biggest surprise was the price — $6.99 per month, which was much lower than many people were expecting,” said Alan Wolk, co-founder of the TVREV consulting firm.

“It’s also ad-free, which was unexpected, as the conventional wisdom was that they would go to a hybrid Hulu-style model, with both ad-supported and ad-free options.”

Wolk said the programming “is exactly what you’d expect from Disney and will appeal to families with children.”

Wolk said the content will mean the new service won’t compete head-on with Hulu, which is 60 percent owned by Disney.

The move “allows them to position Hulu as their edgier, adult offering,” he said.

Disney has predicted it will sign up 60 million to 90 million users over the next five years.

Some analysts have said they expect Disney’s new service to grow quickly and eventually top Netflix’s 140 million worldwide subscribers.