You can tell Netflix is feeling its big-studio oats by the fights it’s accepting.

First came the clash with major Hollywood studios with Roma, which is vying to become the first streaming service film to win Best Picture when the Oscars are handed out February 24. Then it won the bidding war at Sundance for distribution rights to the Ted Bundy biopic Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile. And now it’s prepping for a scrape with Disney’s pending streaming service, Disney +.

Netflix officially called off its relationship with the Marvel TV Universe with the cancellation of The Punisher and Jessica Jones Monday, drawing the ire of some fans and stars alike. Eminem took the service to task for dropping Punisher, one of his favorite shows.


The cancellations weren’t entirely unexpected. Late last year, the streaming giant dropped Daredevil, Luke Cage and Iron Fist. The moves added to a growing contingency anger at the streaming service; fans launched an online campaign, #SaveDaredevil, to keep the show afloat, as its prospects on Disney+ are uncertain.

But data suggests that Netflix was warranted to cancel The Punisher. Viewership for the show dropped 40% from 2017’s first season to last month’s second season in their first weekends of release, according to data from analytics company Jumpshot.

Beyond individual shows, however, the fates of the programs underscore a larger strategic battle brewing between Netflix and Disney. Disney CEO Bob Iger has called the Disney+ streaming service the company’s “biggest priority” for 2019 and said the studio has for months planned a divorce from Netflix so it can launch its own service as the exclusive streaming home for Disney movies, TV shows and another original programming.

Marvel TV President Jeph Loeb wrote a letter thanking the hundreds of cast and crew who worked on all the shows, from Daredevil onwards, and the fans for watching. Loeb also suggested that the characters could return in the distant future, but in what capacity remains unclear.

“Our Network partner may have decided they no longer want to continue telling the tales of these great characters,” Loeb wrote, “but you know Marvel better than that. As Matthew Murdock’s Dad once said, ‘The measure of a man is not how he gets knocked to the mat, it’s how he gets back up.’”

Netflix’s strategy, meanwhile, seems to have shifted its cross-hairs to another outlet, Dark Horse Comics. Already, it produced a film from one of Dark Horse’s webcomic and graphic novel series, Polar. And this month the service released the first season of The Umbrella Academy, another Dark Horse venture.

Loeb perhaps best summed up the upcoming battle with the final line of his letter to fans, a three-word promise: “To be continued.”