In an interesting possible indicator for its streaming futures, Bloomberg reports this week that Disney+ is apparently attempting to work out a deal with the BBC to become the new streaming home for an upcoming season of Doctor Who. Specifically, the entertainment giant is in talks to acquire the global streaming rights for the show’s upcoming 14th revival season, the first to feature Ncuti Gatwa in the starring role as the latest Doctor.
The fascinating part about this is that Disney+ has always been a, let’s say, self-reliant streaming service; the whole ethos underpinning the service’s existence is the idea that having the vast Disney library to pull content from would be enough of a draw to get people in the door all on its lonesome. (Even if it has left the service’s offerings a bit on the anemic side for those of us not deeply committed to learning more about the continuing journeys of the Mighty Ducks.) Whereas Netflix, especially in its early days, built much of its reputation on elaborate licensing deals to bring in content from all over the worlds of TV and film, Disney had, well… Disney.
But no streaming service is an island, apparently, and Doctor Who has always been something of a free agent Stateside; although these days it mostly runs first-run on BBC America (owned jointly by the BBC and AMC), its streaming rights are currently floating over at HBO Max. Disney apparently sees an opening with the show’s most recent transition, which will see Jodie Whitaker hand over reins on the series to Gatwa after three seasons in the TARDIS’ metaphorical driver’s seat.
The Bloomberg report notes that this is all pretty hypothetical at this point, with sources all speaking off the record about Disney picking up the show. If the deal went forward it would apparently involve episodes airing at the same time on both Disney+ and the BBC.