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Netflix Signs Deal with Disney for First-Run and Older Movies

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Someone at Netflix must have wished upon a star, because this is just the deal that the over-the-top subscription streamer needed. Today, Netflix and Walt Disney Studios announced that they've signed a multi-year licensing agreement that will bring first-run and classic Disney movies to Netflix.

Beginning in 2016, Netflix will get new theatrical releases from Disney. Netflix beat out Starz for the first-run offer, and this marks the first time that a major studio has chosen to license new releases to an online service rather than a pay TV channel. Disney's current agreement with Starz ends in 2016.

The deal won't include movies from DreamWorks Studios, which has an agreement with Showtime, but will include titles from Pixar and Marvel, as well as Lucasfilm, which Disney is now acquiring. It will also include direct-to-video titles starting next year.

Netflix subscribers won't need to wait until 2016 to get Disney video: according to the Netflix blog, older Disney titles are going into the Netflix library starting today. Tim Burton's creepy cult classic "The Nightmare Before Christmas" should be available later today, and other Disney favs -- such as "Dumbo," "The Aristocats," and "Pocahontas" will soon follow.

Neither company disclose the financial terms of the agreement.

For a company that's made some bad decisions, a jolt of Disney magic is just what it needs. This is also a boost to the online video industry overall, which has become a serious competitor to pay TV.

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