Disney has removed all your childhood favourites from Netflix UK.
Frozen. Enchanted. Toy Story. Toy Story 2. All those animated House of Mouse movies that defined your youth are gone. We knew the removal was coming – we announced it back in April – and the rights to titles expire all the time on Netflix, but that doesn’t stop Disney’s disappearance from hurting; for those with kids, who rely on a dose of The Aristocats or Brave to get through the day, it’s a big blow. For those who are still kids at heart, it’s no less painful.
Why have they been removed? The answer is pretty simple: today’s expiry of 70 odd films from Netflix’s catalogue arrives shortly after Disney decided to launch its own subscription streaming service, DisneyLife. The site, which went live last year, offers “the best of Disney all in one place”, with films, TV box sets, books and music available as part of a £9.99 monthly fee.
Disney has a range of agreements with different VOD services in the UK. Sky Movies has the exclusive rights to the first pay TV window for titles. That multi-year deal was renewed recently, giving it exclusive streaming rights for titles such as Inside Out, The Good Dinosaur and Star Wars: The Force Awakens from around nine months after their release in cinemas. When those leave Sky, they then arrive on Amazon Prime Video and Netflix UK, which both have a deal with Netflix for the second pay TV window.
Since the launch of DisneyLife, though, those deals with Netflix UK and Amazon Prime Video are expiring without renewal: Netflix bid farewell to its classic Disney catalogue in the wee small hours of this morning and, while Amazon Prime Video still has all of its older Disney titles, we understand they will be removed in June, unless that deal is renewed. DisneyLife, then, looks set to be the future subscription home for Disney titles post-Sky’s window.
There is still some good news for Netflix UK customers, though: Netflix also has the rights for live action titles, such as the Marvel blockbusters – Sky, it should be noted, separately holds the exclusive rights for Star Wars. For example, Maleficent, which recently exited Sky’s first-run window, is now available on Netflix UK and shows no sign of leaving any time soon. Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Thor and more should therefore be safe on Netflix UK for the time being (until their rights, too, ultimately expire).
Not all of the titles that have been removed from Netflix UK today are currently on DisneyLife, such as Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus – Best of Both Worlds (also on Sky and Amazon Prime Video), but we expect them to show up soon. Sky, meanwhile, will see a range of Disney titles depart in the coming months, including The Shaggy Dog and Son of Flubber, and others will naturally leave over the next year, all of which should then head to DisneyLife as well.
The separation of Disney’s content arrives as the global VOD market becomes increasingly segmented: YouTube MCN Fullscreen has just launched its own standalone subscription service, rather than join YouTube Red, while US networks are frequently opting to introduce their own SVOD platforms, rather than license content out to sites, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
But enough technical talk. Where can you stream Disney flicks now? In the short term, if you still want to see the Toy Story trilogy, you can sign up to Amazon Prime Video for a one-month free trial (normally £5.99 a month). In the long term, however, DisneyLife is gradually being positioned as the ultimate go-to destination for the House of Mouse – although those wanting to see newer titles first should head to Sky – or its SVOD counterpart, NOW TV. On the plus side, neither of them have contracts, so you can cancel after a month. DisneyLife offers a one-month free trial too.
The VOD world is built on such exclusive arrangements – and, while this may hurt in the short-term, the removal of Disney’s titles means that Netflix has more money freed up to invest in its original kids’ programming, which includes a bunch of DreamWorks Animation spin-offs and many other new shows, including Trollhunters by Guillermo del Toro. There’s a life lesson in there, somewhere. A tough lesson, but one that Walt would probably approve of.
Here’s a full list of the Disney titles that left today:
A Christmas Carol (2009)
A Country Coyote Goes Hollywood
A Goofy Movie
Aladdin and the King of Thieves
Atlantis: Milo’s Return
Atlantis: The Lost Empire
Bedknobs and Broomsticks
Beverly Hills Chihuahua
The Big Green
Brother Bear 2
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
George of the Jungle
Hannah Montana / Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds
Herbie: Fully Loaded
Home on the Range
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids
In Search of the Castaways
The Jungle Book 2
The Lizzie McGuire Movie
The Love Bug
Man of the House
Max Keeble’s Big Move
Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas
The Mighty Ducks
The Muppets Christmas Carol
The Muppets (2011)
National Treasure: Book of Secrets
Oliver & Company
The Parent Trap
The Pirate Fairy
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
The Prince and the Pauper
Recess: School’s Out
Return to Never Land
Return to Oz
Toy Story 2
Toy Story 3
Trail of the Panda
Whisper: An Elephant’s Tale