Disney+ has launched in seven European markets. It is now available in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria and Switzerland, with France delayed until 7 April. Belgium, Portugal and the Nordics will follow in the summer. With countries in lockdown due to coronavirus restrictions, the online service is addressing a captive audience with its family entertainment but faces challenges in its theme parks and resorts business.
The Disney+ online service previously launched in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, Australia, New Zealand and the Netherlands in November 2019. By February it had 28.6 million subscrbers.
“Launching in seven markets simultaneously marks a new milestone for Disney+,” said Kevin Mayer, the chairman of Walt Disney Direct-to-Consumer and International. “As the streaming home for Disney, Marvel, Pixar, Star Wars and National Geographic, Disney+ delivers high-quality, optimistic storytelling that fans expect from our brands, now available broadly, conveniently and permanently on Disney+. We humbly hope that this service can bring some much-needed moments of respite for families during these difficult times.”
Disney+ is available directly or through an in-app purchase on Amazon Fire devices, tablets and televisions, on Apple devices including Apple TV, on Google devices, Roku boxes, LG, Samsung and Sony smart televisions, and Microsoft Xbox One and Sony PlayStation 4 consoles.
The Disney+ service is also available through distributors including Sky in the United Kingdom and Ireland, Deutsche Telekom in Germany, Telefonica in Spain, TIM in Italy, and Canal+ in France when it launches there.
An independent measurement company estimated that on its debut day in seven European markets the app was downloaded 5 million times. That only includes mobile apps, not connected televisions. It does not necessarily translate into subscribers. The Walt Disney Company has yet to reveal any figures related to its European launch.
At a cost of £5.99 a month or £59.99 for a year, Disney+ includes a catalogue of childhood favourites as well as new shows like the space western The Mandalorian based on the Star Wars franchise.
The European launch was long planned for early April but was brought forward by a week back in January. It would not have been foreseen that much of Europe would be in lockdown, with families confined to their homes. That clearly represents an opportunity for Disney, although many consumers will have other concerns.
Disney has its own problems, with its theme parks, resorts and stores facing closure due to coronavirus measures. Its stock price was under $100 a share, down from a high over the previous year of over $150 when the Disney+ service first launched in America.