Disney has officially announced some key international release dates for the Disney+ streaming service, including the U.K. and Western Europe launch dates. Disney+ is due to launch on the United States on November 12, and it’s expected to dramatically shake up the streaming market. The new service contains a wealth of historic Disney, Star Wars, Pixar, Fox, Marvel, and National Geographic content, and it will constantly be bolstered by original releases.
International release is a more recent priority for the House of Mouse, although the Disney+ launch is going to be staggered due to the sheer complexity of the operation. First, Disney needs to reacquire sufficient distribution rights in each territory to make Disney+ competitive, and the company’s historic distribution deal with Sky is a fly in the ointment for UK release. Further complicating the issue, EU “content quota” laws mandate that a percentage of content has to have been produced in Europe.
Disney has taken to social media to confirm that Disney+ will launch in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain on March 31, 2020. They caution that the available titles will vary by territory, but the announcement video includes clips from Frozen; a range of Marvel movies including Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain Marvel, and Thor: Ragnarok; the original Disney’s Aladdin; and Pixar movies like The Incredibles and Inside Out. It also shows brief clips from The Mandalorian, a Disney+ exclusive.
Disney’s tweet suggests that there will be other announcements in the near future, and it remains to be seen when they’ll release launch trailers confirming the full slate in additional European markets. Disney’s goal is to expand across other markets throughout 2019 and 2020. No doubt original content will feature heavily in future marketing; this is easier in terms of distribution rights and will serve as a major draw for Disney+, especially when the new MCU television shows kick-off. Those are confirmed to tie in directly to the movies, making them required viewing for Marvel movie fans. That should put international audiences at ease, as some fans have become increasingly concerned they wouldn’t get to keep up-to-date on the Marvel Universe.
On top of the Disney+ Europe launch dates, Disney CEO Bob Iger has recently revealed that the company has struck a deal with Amazon to stream Disney+ on the FireStick, which will presumably be the main distribution system in some countries. Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see how the roll-out of Disney+ affects the Disney Life service, a multimedia app that’s available in the United Kingdom and the Philippines. That app is also pre-installed on some smart TVs. There’s been some speculation that Disney will simply run an update to the app and offer Disney Life subscribers the opportunity to move to Disney+. But, as yet, that’s unconfirmed.