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Disney+ arrives in UK and other European countries in March


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Last week we noted the announcement of a March 2020 launch date for Disney’s new video-streaming service Disney+ in the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, but there’s more to say about this. Particularly relating to the service’s launch date in the US, Canada, the Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand this month. That means a four-and-a-half months gap before people in the big-five European markets can watch the exclusive shows on Disney+ – for example, a brand new Star Wars series called The Mandalorian.

“Star Wars fans in particular will be feeling the four-month wait, since they’ll have to spend the next few months dodging spoilers online,” said TV analyst Dani Warner from uSwitch – although it may be just as accurate to say ‘Star Wars fans in particular will have to spend the next four minutes remembering how to use piracy sites to download shows from geo-blocked streaming services’.

It’s a reminder of how the TV and music worlds have diverged considerably in their streaming ecosystems: DSP-level exclusives in music are very rare nowadays, and while some geo-blocking of music goes on, it’s hardly ever for the bigger releases. TV, by comparison, is presenting a frustrating and expensive patchwork of options with exclusive shows, and catalogues that can vary by region (as Brits who’ve figured out how to access Netflix US rather than Netflix UK because they prefer the former’s catalogue will tell you).

The video-streaming world (and the TV producers creating all those exclusive shows) may have bigger problems than piracy to worry about, though: the Financial Times has published a piece warning that the boom in TV spending may well be heading for a bust. “This isn’t a gold rush, it’s an arms race. We don’t know if there is any pot of gold,” said one of its sources. “Once the music stops, there will be carnage.”

Stuart Dredge

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