If you were to, say, have rights to the Star Wars catalog to air on your own television channel, how much would that be worth to you? That’s the question Disney is reportedly posing by shopping around the free television rights to a package containing all nine Star Wars movies — including the currently-unreleased Episode VIII and Episode IX.
The report, which comes from Variety, suggests that Disney has either pitched or is set to pitch the package of all nine movies to companies like Viacom, FX Networks, Turner and more. Previously, Viacom’s Spike TV held the free television rights in a deal said to range somewhere between $65 and $70 million, but that license expired back in 2014.
An important distinction in terms of what Variety’s actually talking about here is “free television rights” versus something like “pay television rights” — the latter of which are tied up at Starz for The Force Awakens, for example. There’s also a prior deal Disney struck with Netflix back in 2012 that means Episode VIII and Episode IX will both almost certainly see inclusion on the streaming platform prior to hitting cable.
Now, even if Disney actually is shopping around the most Star Wars package of all Star Wars packages, that doesn’t mean they’ll actually end up selling it somewhere outside the Greater Mouse House. ABC is an obvious choice here, given that it’s owned by Disney. There’s a reason Agent Carter airs where it does, after all.
All the shopping around could simply be a test to see what the market’s willing to cough up for the rights, which Disney could then use to strike a fair deal with what is essentially itself. It’s a safe route to take when and if the deal goes down as any scrutiny would immediately throw up a, “hey, this is what other companies said they’d pay, so that’s what we based our own deal on,” response. Whatever the case, expect the rights to go for a small fortune.