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Disney+ grows European footprint

Disney+ as it appears on a tablet

The Walt Disney Company’s Disney+ streaming service has launched in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria and Switzerland today.

The streamer – whose French launch was also due today but has been postponed following a government request – features 26 original series alongside library content from brands such as Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic and The Simpsons.

In light of concerns regarding the current ability of broadband infrastructure to handle anticipated consumer demand for the service, Disney+ is initially limiting its bandwidth use by at least 25%, the company said.

This follows the likes of Netflix and YouTube also reducing video-streaming quality in Europe to lower the stress on residential broadband networks, with huge numbers of people staying at home because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Launching in seven markets simultaneously marks a new milestone for Disney+,” said Kevin Mayer, chairman of Walt Disney direct-to-consumer and international. “We humbly hope that this service can bring some much-needed moments of respite for families during these difficult times.”

Last week, analysts predicted that self-isolation across Europe could boost Disney+’s initial subscriber figures on launch, with millions of people stuck at home looking for an entertainment fix.

Disney has struck various distribution and strategic agreements in Europe to make Disney+ available with partners including Deutsche Telekom in Germany, O2 in the UK, Telefonica in Spain, TIM in Italy and Canal+ in France.

These providers will have the ability to include Disney+ in wholesale and retail packages for their subscribers.

Disney also has a retail distribution deal with Sky that makes Disney+ available in the UK and Ireland on Sky Q, to be followed by Sky OTT platform Now TV in the coming months.

Pricing for Disney+ has been confirmed at £5.99/€6.99 (US$6.47/US$7.60) per month, or £59.99/€69.99 for an annual subscription.

Following its initial European launch markets, additional Western European markets including Belgium, the Nordics and Portugal will follow this summer.

The streaming service launched in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Puerto Rico last year, while its arrival in India – previously set for March 29 – has been delayed following the postponement of the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament due to the coronavirus.

The plan was for Disney+ to launch in India through Disney-owned SVoD platform Hotstar’s service in line with the beginning of the Indian Premier League cricket season.

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