Netflix Makes Deal with Obamas, but Is Losing Disney Content


May. 13 2019, Published 10:04 a.m. ET

Obamas to produce educational content for Netflix

Former President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle Obama last year secured a multiyear deal to produce shows for Netflix (NFLX) through their company, Higher Ground Productions. Last month, the Obamas revealed the shows they are preparing to bring to Netflix. The programming by the Obamas will include shows, documentaries, and movies. According to a Reuters report, one of the shows will cover the topic of healthy eating habits, a major area of focus for former first lady Michelle Obama during her time in the White House.

The Obamas believe that their Netflix programming will both be entertaining and educational. Educational content has become a major area of focus for Netflix as the company seeks new ways to engage its audience of more than 150 million around the world.

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Replacing Disney shows

As Walt Disney (DIS) is withdrawing its content from Netflix, the programming by the Obamas could help the company replace the Disney shows that are going away. In March, Disney closed a $71.3 billion transaction in which it purchased a portfolio of entertainment assets, including a film production business, from Fox Corporation (FOXA) as it seeks to build its digital media business. Disney’s streaming video service that will take on Netflix is expected to be launched in November.

Netflix exited the first quarter with 149 million paying subscribers worldwide, including more than 60 million in the United States. Hulu, one of its top competitors in America, has 26.8 million paying subscribers. Disney owns 60% of Hulu and is reportedly seeking to buy Comcast’s (CMCSA) 30% stake in the business. AT&T (T) sold its 10% Hulu stake last month for more than $1.4 billion.


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