The 1 Thing Disney+ Will Have That Netflix Does Not

The Disney+ logo is displayed on a television
Disney had to do one specific thing to make up for a previous contract. | Chesnot/Getty Images

Disney+’s debut on November 12 is going to mean an exciting day for those who’ve been wanting to stream classic or newer Disney movies on a mobile device. Those who pay $7 per month for the service and expect not to see any ads might be disappointed.

While Disney+ won’t be forcing anyone to see ads during movies or shows, the streaming service won’t be a completely ad-free experience. What they will be doing is showing one particular ad during sign-up as a means to help them do a little corporate payback.

What it comes down to is Disney having to pay to retain some of the films they currently own. It’s a little lesson learned in how previous streaming contracts can sometimes put a monkey wrench into returning immediate rights when starting a rival streaming service.

Disney’s mistake in licensing their shows and movies to Netflix and Starz

During signup for Disney+ on November 12, expect to see one brief ad at the bottom of the page. It’s going to be an ad to persuade members to sign up for the cable network Starz.

Back before Disney ever thought about starting Disney+, they licensed out many of their media properties to Netflix and Starz, making it necessary to strike a new deal with latter as early as possible. This also doesn’t include Marvel, Lucasfilm, and Pixar material being licensed out separately to other properties.

Anyone wondering why Disney+ won’t have everything they own on the platform will now realize it’s due to lack of foresight in gaining licensing rights. Not that ads for Starz will likely be a deal-breaker for subscribers.

Then again, it might freak out those who expect an ad-free experience when paying for streaming. The hope is, the future of streaming ultimately won’t become ad-based just to keep the platforms above water financially.

Netflix doesn’t have ads

Any new Netflix subscriber can still have a guarantee in not seeing one single ad when signing up for the service. They continually promise they won’t have ads, which is no doubt one reason they stay in the lead with subscribers. Other services don’t always make such a promise. Hulu is still notorious for not being able to control occasional ads with premium add-ons.

Considering Netflix invests so much in their shows, it’s worth pondering whether they may have to show ads eventually if they find themselves in riskier financial territory.

Such a scenario would essentially turn them into network TV, maybe an inevitable trajectory for all platforms. With more and more streaming services being offered, the growing thought of streaming turning into something resembling cable someday isn’t just an exaggeration.

Having one Starz ad from Disney+ no doubt won’t cause an uproar. Disney already says 1 million have subscribed early, with 13 million expected to join by this coming year.

How much work will Disney put in to acquiring ‘The Force Awakens‘?

Licensing rights are extremely complicated. Disney still hasn’t been able to regain the rights to offer Star Wars: The Force Awakens. As powerful as Disney is, just asking politely or waving cash isn’t quite enough after licensing these films out to other streaming properties.

TFA is only available on other platforms (like Amazon) for the interim, something that perhaps will be the case for a while. Star Wars fans may feel at a loss not having the film on Disney+ from the beginning, even though most of the films will be there. However, The Last Jedi will also be missing from Disney+ and only streaming on Netflix until December 26, 2019 and Solo will be on Netflix into next summer.

As much business foresight as Disney has, any business analyst would say they arguably made a mistake in licensing out their products into specific time frames. Making bigger money for a company is still top priority, and they had to do what’s necessary, regardless of future outcomes.

In this regard, Disney+ might not see its fullest bloom in what it’s capable of presenting for more than a year, outside of the mountain of content already readily available.