Disney's upcoming merger leads to licensing shows to Netflix

In a surprising move, Disney is licensing several of their shows to Netflix! Which shows are going over to the streamer and why is this partnership happening?

GREYÕS ANATOMY - ÒWedding Bell Blues/Happily Ever AfterÓ - SimoneÕs wedding day arrives as Jo and
GREYÕS ANATOMY - ÒWedding Bell Blues/Happily Ever AfterÓ - SimoneÕs wedding day arrives as Jo and /
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Fans of Disney shows are used to the idea they can only stream on either Hulu or Disney+. But in a major surprise, Disney is now licensing several shows to Netflix! Find out which ones and when you can watch them!

Disney is prepping for an upcoming merger with the Disney+ and Hulu apps. The beta test is already underway, meaning you can watch Hulu content on Disney+ without the need to open up different apps. That so far counts on the Disney+ side, although the Hulu app may do the same. 

Disney had announced that the entire run of Grey’s Anatomy will be available on Hulu and Disney+. That’s no surprise as Disney owns ABC and a few ABC series (such as Once Upon a Time) are available on Disney+ as well as Hulu.

However, Disney is now reaching a deal with Netflix to license several Disney-owned shows from Hulu for an 18-month window, a surprising cooperation.

Why is Disney licensing to Netflix?

For Disney to reach out to Netflix is unusual, given the entire point of Disney+ was to give Disney more presence in the streaming wars. However, the brutal fact is that Netflix gets more viewers than Disney+ or, for that matter, any other streamer. This is why some streamers are reaching out to Netflix to feature shows for more popularity.

A key case was Suits, the USA Network legal drama, which was previously only available on Peacock. Once it was licensed for Netflix, viewership skyrocketed to the point there's talk of a reboot of the series.  

Other streamers are taking notice as Paramount+ licensed their original series School Spirits to Netflix (where it's already among the ten most watched series) and Warner Bros has begun sending several of their shows and movies from the CW or HBO to the free streamer Tubi. 

During a conference call in November, Disney CEO Bob Iger confirmed the company will be licensing other shows to Netflix but that it won’t include their Star Wars or Marvel projects, among others. 

“We’ve been licensing content to Netflix, and are going to continue to. We’re actually in discussion with them now about some opportunities, but I wouldn’t expect that we will license our core brands to them. Those are obviously competitive advantages for us and differentiators. Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, for instance — they are all doing very, very well on our platform and I don’t see why, just to basically chase bucks, we should do that when they are really really important building blocks to the current and future of our streaming business.”

By licensing these out, Disney can pick up more money from Netflix and expand the numbers while also getting attention for Hulu and Disney+. It shows a new shift in the streaming conflict as companies (still smarting from the losses caused by the writer and actor strikes in the summer of 2023) are realizing it’s better to share shows rather than stick to having them on their own platforms for limited viewing.

What Disney-owned shows are coming to Netflix?

Per Deadline, the list of series Disney is licensing to Netflix is interesting as they include ABC hits like Lost and Home Improvement but also shows from other networks like This Is Us, How I Met Your Mother, and Prison Break (all of which were on Netflix for a time). Also, there will be select episodes of the ESPN documentary series 30 For 30, but no details on which episodes will be shared. 

  • The Wonder Years: 1/1/2024
  • This is Us: 1/8/2024
  • My Wife & Kids: 2/5/2024
  • ESPN 30 for 30: 25 episodes; premiere dates vary between from February to December
  • The Resident: 3/4/2024
  • White Collar: 4/1/2024
  • Reba: 5/6/2024
  • Archer: 5/13/2024
  • How I Met Your Mother: 6/3/2024
  • Lost: 7/1/2024
  • Prison Break: 7/29/2024
  • The Hughleys: 9/2/2024 (also coming to Hulu)
  • The Bernie Mac Show: 1/1/2025
  • Home Improvement: 2/1/2025

A mild hope is that Disney may even send some shows that had been removed from Disney+ (such as Willow) to Netflix if the licensing deal works out. As it stands, this is a new turn in the streaming platform game as Disney seems open to expanding its range to Netflix more than Disney+.