Disney+, the new streaming home for Disney, Marvel, Pixar, Star Wars and National Geographic, is now streaming in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria and Switzerland. The French launch will follow on April 7, with Belgium, Portugal and the Nordics rolling out in the summer. This much anticipated streaming offer from The Walt Disney Company is the most significant general entertainment direct-to-consumer service yet launched, given the popularity of Disney content, the fact you used to have to take a Pay TV subscription in order access some of it, and the way Disney is repatriating content from what are now rival SVOD services.
Disney+ gives subscribers direct access to more than 500 films, 26 original movies and series, and thousands of television episodes. This includes The Simpsons, with over 600 episodes currently available on-demand (seasons 1-30). Referencing the current social distancing and lockdowns in operation across much of Europe due to coronavirus, Kevin Mayer, Chairman of Walt Disney Direct-to-Consumer & International, says: “We humbly hope that this service can bring some much-needed moments of respite for families during these difficult times.”
Priced at £5.99 in the UK and €6.99 per month in other markets (or £59.99/€69.99 for an annual subscription), the service represents good value-for-money and like many streaming services, is priced to generate huge scale, quickly. Pre-coronavirus forecasts already pointed to Disney+ having 126 million paying subscribers globally by 2025 (February 6, 2020 figures from Digital TV Research).
Disney has signed a number of important distribution deals with European Pay TV and mobile providers including Deutsche Telekom in Germany, Telefonica in Spain and TIM in Italy. In the UK and Ireland there is an onboarding deal with Sky that sees Disney+ integrated into the Sky Q set-top box experience and then, in the coming months, with NOW TV (Sky’s Pay Lite streaming service). There is a separate arrangement with mobile provider O2 in the UK. Canal+ will be a retail partner in France from April 7. “These providers will have the ability to include Disney+ in wholesale and retail packages for their subscribers,” Disney states.
The key point about Disney+ of course, is that consumers can access this service without reference to any Pay TV or mobile provider if they wish, signing up directly via all major mobile and connected TV devices, with the latter spanning gaming consoles, streaming media players and smart TVs. Below, you can see a full list of the devices where you can sign up.
Disney+ features commercial-free viewing. Each subscription allows you up to four concurrent streams and unlimited downloads on up to ten devices – which amounts to a generous feature set for the price. Personalised recommendations are included. Subscribers may set up to seven different profiles, and parents have the ability to set Kids Profiles that have an easy-to-navigate, child-friendly interface to access age-appropriate content.
To help reduce the burden on broadband infrastructure during the coronavirus crisis, Disney+ will reduce its bit rates by 25% compared to what they would normally be.
“Launching in seven markets simultaneously marks a new milestone for Disney+,” says Mayer. “This service delivers high-quality, optimistic storytelling that fans expect from our brands, now available broadly, conveniently and permanently on Disney+.”
Disney+ launched in the U.S., Canada and the Netherlands on November 12 last year. The service debuted in Australia, New Zealand and Puerto Rico on November 19, 2019.
The devices where you can sign-up to Disney+ directly or via an in-app purchase are:
- Amazon (Fire TV devices, Fire TV Edition smart TVs and Fire Tablets)
- Apple (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Apple TV, and fully integrated with the Apple TV app in the UK and Germany; customers can subscribe to Disney+ via in-app purchase)
- Google (Android phones, Android TV devices, Google Chromecast and Chromecast built-in devices)
- LG Smart TVs with webOS
- Microsoft (Xbox One)
- Roku (Roku streaming players and Roku TV models) in the UK and Ireland, beginning this week, and in France, beginning April 7
- Samsung Smart TVs
- Sony / Sony Interactive Entertainment (Android-based Sony TVs and PlayStation4).
The term direct-to-consumer refers to channel owners (or sports federations/sports rights owners) who create a one-to-one relationship with viewers that means they no longer rely on a distributor/aggregator to stand in the middle. Thus, BVOD services like BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub are direct-to-consumer (D2C) services – you can access the channel owner content directly, via streaming and apps, without needing either a free-to-air set-top box or a Pay TV provider.
When free-to-air channels introduced their (D2C) streaming services it shifted the balance of power between channels and platforms slightly back towards the channels, but beyond this there were no major ramifications for the channel/platform relationship. But when subscription pay channels like HBO and now Disney introduce a D2C service, it is more significant because this is content that traditionally (and unlike the ‘terrestrial broadcaster offers) was locked inside a Pay TV bundle.
When content from subscription channels becomes available independently of Pay TV operators, we enter a world where Pay TV may not be able to ensure exclusive access to some of its most attractive content in future. That in turn raises many questions about how Pay TV operators remain relevant in the D2C era – and the combined roles of super-aggregator and ‘most trusted content discovery agent’ spring to mind.
In this story, we call Disney+ the most significant D2C general entertainment launch yet because it makes some of the most compelling pay content available without a traditional Pay TV subscription. During the recent digital Connected TV World Summit, Videonet interviewed Guy Bisson, Executive Director at Ampere Analysis, about what D2C, including the launch of Disney+, means for Pay TV operators large and small, and you can see what he thinks via the on-demand conference stream, by registering here.
If you don’t have time to watch the interview, Videonet will be covering the interview within the next ten days.