Disney+ Expands Into TV-MA Fare As It Adds Marvel’s ‘Defenders’ Franchise & ‘Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ From Netflix

All six of Marvel’s original seres for Netflix, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, The Punisher, and The Defenders limited series as well as Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which had been streaming exclusively on Netflix, will be moving to Disney+ starting March 16. They will be available across all other Disney+ markets later this year.

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The arrival of the Defenders franchise, whose series are all rated TV-MA, is ushering in a new era for Disney+ in the U.S., which launched as a family friendly destination with all of its programming fitting into the TV-Y, TVY-7, TV-G, TV-PG and TV-14 ratings categories.

To accomodate the introduction of TV-MA programming (equivalent to an R-rating in features), Disney+ will be updating its existing Parental Controls in the U.S. This already has been implemented internationally, including in EMEA, where Star, which features adult programming from Hulu, FX and other Disney entities, is integrated into Disney+.

There had been speculation that Disney may be broadening the range of content on Disney+ beyond family entertainment in order to maintain subscriber growth after the big slowdown in new signings for the streamer reported in November. Chatter intensified after it was revealed last month that Netflix’s license to the six Defenders universe shows was ending, and they would be leaving the platform March 1. (Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., which streamed exclusively on Netflix until yesterday, Feb. 28,  originated on ABC, so its rating is TV-14.)

While the six Defenders series, which started as Netflix originals, were developed and produced pre-Disney+ under a different regime by the now-defunct Marvel Television, the Kevin Feige-run Marvel Studios also appears to be pushing the content envelope in some of its upcoming  Disney+ output.

“It’s been fun to work with Disney+ and see the boundaries shifting on what we’re able to do,” Feige said recently, describing the title character in the company’s Moon Knight series as “loud and brutal.” “The knee-jerk reaction is, ‘We’re gonna pull back on this, right?’ No. We’re not pulling back. There’s a tonal shift,” Feige said. The rating for Moon Knight has not been revealed yet; the series debuts March 30, two weeks after Disney+ introduces the new Parental Controls that include access to TV-MA programming.

In addition to Disney regaining control of the existing episodes of the Defenders series, Feige has indicated that there is a possibility to revive/reboot some of the shows, including Daredevil, whose star Charlie Cox recently made his MCU debut in Spider-Man: No Way Home. Having the six former Netflix series on Disney+ would make a potential expansion of the Defenders universe on the Disney streamer and integrating it in the larger MCU pretty seamless. That already has been done with Disney+’s recent Marvel series Hawkeye, which features a Daredevil villain, Vincent D’Onofrio’s Kingpin, after Netflix’s ban on Disney’s use of characters had expired.

From the get-go, Marvel has been a cornerstone of Disney+ with a dedicated content brand page. Disney+ was billed as home of the largest Marvel collection with hundreds of hours of movies and shows, so completing the catalogue with the missing live-action Marvel series made sense. On Disney+, in addition to Marvel Studios’ original series created for the streamer, like WandaVision, Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Hawkeye, the incoming Netflix transplants join Marvel TV’s Runaways and Cloak & Dagger, which were originally produced for Hulu and Freeform, respectively, as well as Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s ABC offshoot Agent Carter.

There are currently no plans for M.O.D.O.K and Hit-Monkey, the two adult animation series sold to Hulu by Marvel TV before it was disbanded, to relocate to Disney+.

More mature fare like Jessica Jones and Luke Cage would allow Disney+ to potentially reach to a broader audience of Marvel fans to bring in new subscribers. And that could go beyond Marvel programming, with the streamer possibly offering the type of adult original streaming programming currently only associated with Hulu (including the FX brand) within the Disney universe.

That means that Netflix co-CEO Reed Hastings, who quipped a year ago that “I don’t think you’re going to see [a show like Bridgerton] on Disney anytime soon”, could be proven wrong.

“Disney+ has served as the home for some of the most beloved brands in the industry, and the addition of these live-action shows brings more from the Marvel brand together, all in one place,” said Michael Paull, President of Disney Streaming. “We have experienced great success with an expanded content offering on Disney+ across our global markets and are excited to continue that here in the U.S. as well by offering our consumers not only great content with the new Marvel additions, but also a set of features that help ensure a viewing experience most suitable for them and their family.”

When opening Disney+ for the first time on or after March 16, all subscribers in the U.S. will be prompted to update their Parental Controls. This includes the option to select content ratings restrictions for each profile, add a PIN to lock profiles, and enable a Kid-Proof Exit feature to prevent viewers from leaving their Kids Profile without completing an exit challenge.

Those that choose to keep their settings the same will continue to have access to a TV-14 content rating environment, with the option to make changes at any time under Profile settings.

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