- Disney+ goes live across Europe today
- Disney has unveiled distribution partners in UK, France, Spain and Italy
- But French launch is delayed until April due to coronavirus
Disney’s new SVOD platform has officially launched across Europe, offering subscribers access to thousands of hours of Disney, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic content.
Disney+ - which was launched in the US and Canada in November - is the Walt Disney Company’s new OTT service, as it aims to compete with the likes of Netflix and Amazon.
“We’re making a huge statement about the future of media and entertainment and our continued ability to thrive in this new era,” former Disney chief executive Bob Iger said on an earnings call ahead of the US launch last year.
The launch represents the culmination of more than two years of planning and billions of dollars of investment by Disney as it pivots to the direct-to-consumer, OTT market.
- Read more: Disney bets big on the streaming revolution
It follows a huge investment in content from the House of Mouse, which has over the past few decades acquired the likes of Pixar, LucasFilm (Star Wars), Marvel and 20th Century Fox.
At launch, Disney+ has 10 new, original TV series and movies exclusive to the service including The Mandalorian, a live-action Star Wars spin-off; Lady and the Tramp, a live-action movie reboot of the 1955 animated classic; and High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.
Disney has also spent heavily on the technology for its new streaming service. In 2017, it invested $1.58 billion - in addition to $1 billion it had already invested - to gain control of BamTech, a US streaming media specialist (now called Disney Streaming Services) that previously helped US broadcaster HBO set up its streaming services.
However, when the platform debuted in November, this investment came under question, as users complained about experiencing technical glitches when trying to log on to the service.
- Read more: Disney+ debuts with technical glitches
Disney chalked this up to huge demand for the service. According to Disney’s results, more than 28 million subscribers signed up to Disney+ in the first three months of the SVOD’s launch.
Disney will be hoping not to experience similar problems with the European launch, which spans Austria, the UK, Germany, Spain, Ireland, Italy and Switzerland.
In order to gain the greatest reach for the service, Disney has announced a number of partners across various markets.
In the UK, Sky has been unveiled as Disney’s key broadcaster partner, inking a multi-year deal with Disney
The two companies struck the deal enabling Sky customers to pay for access to premium Disney+ content via an app following the launch of Disney+ in Europe.
- Read more: Sky inks multi-year deal for Disney+
Under the terms of the deal Sky will also hold the first-pay window for 20th Century film rights including Le Man ’66 and Terminator: Dark Fate, which will continue to be available for Sky Cinema customers. It has also partnered with UK mobile operator O2.
This follows similar agreements in Spain, where it struck an agreement with O2 UK owner Telefonica, and Italy, where it agreed a deal with telecoms operator TIM (formerly Telecom Italia).
The agreement with Telefonica sees Disney+ launch in Spain on Movistar Plus, Telefónica’s pay-TV SVoD service.
In Italy, Disney+ will be offered to TIM’s new and existing customers in a bundle with fibre packages.
In France, Disney agreed a deal to launch Disney+ exclusively with Canal+, but this launch has been delayed at the trequest of the French government, who expressed concerns over bandwidth usage while the country is in lockdown due to coronavirus. Disney+ will now launch in France on 7 April.
The delay was announced alongside news that all European countries will see Disney limit bandwidth usage of its service at launch. This is due to a request from the European Union, again over concerns of streaming consuming high amounts of bandwidth.