Disney+ Launching in Eight New Countries on Sept. 15

The Walt Disney Co.’s subscription streaming video service Disney+ is set to launch in eight new European countries on Sept. 15. The upstart service, which bowed in the United States, Canada and Holland on Nov. 12, 2019, is launching in Portugal, Finland, Iceland, Belgium and Luxembourg (€6.99/monthly, €69.99/annually), and Norway (69 NOK/689 NOK), Denmark (59 DKK/589 DKK), Sweden (69 SEK/689). The service no longer offers free 7-day trial periods.

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The platform bowed in Australia, New Zealand, and Puerto Rico on Nov. 19, 2019; and in Austria, United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Germany, Ireland, and Switzerland on March 24.

Like other subs, new users have access Disney+ experience on nearly all major mobile and connected TV devices at launch, including gaming consoles, streaming media players, and smart TVs. Subs have access to commercial-free content, up to four concurrent streams, unlimited downloads on up to 10 devices, personalized recommendations, and the ability to set up to seven different profiles.

As of May, Disney said Disney+ had 54.5 million subscribers.

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Report: Disney+ European Launch Nabs 5 Million First-Day App Downloads

The Disney+ launch March 24 in Austria, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom reportedly generated about 5 million app downloads, according to new data from App Annie. By comparison, Disney’s launch of a branded SVOD service in North America last November generated 10 million downloads/sign-ups.

With many Europeans on lockdown at home due to the coronavirus pandemic the launch comes at a time when people are even more inclined to stream video content.

“Disney+ is set to be one of the top streaming apps in the region,” analyst Adithya Venkatraman wrote in a blog post.

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With schools closed, Disney+, with its array of kid-friendly programs, made Frozen 2 available three months ahead of schedule.

Disney+ will be available in France on April 7, and additional Western European markets in the summer, followed by Latin-America and Asia-Pacific.

Disney+ began testing the service in India through the company’s Hotstar app, the 10th ranked app in India by time spent on Android phones in 2019, according to App Annie. Disney recently announced the India launch would be postponed.

So far in 2020, Disney+ is the 7th ranked non-gaming app by consumer spend worldwide with the U.S. being the main driver of consumer spend.

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Through December 2019, Disney+ users are spending an average of 3 hours and 10 minutes per month in the app, according to App Annie. This is comparable to established players like Netflix (4 hours and 20 minutes per month), and Hulu (3 hours and 20 minutes per month). By the end of 2019, 25% of Netflix users on iPhone in the U.S. also used Disney+, the highest overlap of users among top video apps in the U.S.

With increased social distancing measure taking effect in the U.S. and across the world, free streaming service Pluto.tv (a subsidiary of ViacomCBS), saw a 75% week-over-week increase in time spent on Android phones in the U.S. during the week of March 1-7.

The recent acquisition of Tubi TV by Fox, and the planned April 6 launch of Quibi further highlight the increasing competition among video apps for consumers’ time and money, according to Venkatraman.

“If Disney+’s uptake in European markets is similar to what we saw in the U.S., it would make Disney+ one of the largest streaming services by [monthly active users] in every European market it launched in,” Venkatraman wrote .

He said there was a comparable amount of cross-app usage between Netflix and Amazon Prime in the U.K. and Germany during 2019 — 17% in the U.K. and 25% in Germany.

“This suggests that consumers in these markets are willing to support multiple subscription services. The question is how many, and for how long?” Venkatraman wrote.

Disney+ Goes Live in Western Europe; France on April 7

Disney’s high-profile subscription streaming video platform, Disney+, officially went live throughout much of Europe on March 24. The service will launch April 7 in France due to ongoing concerns about the coronavirus’ impact on the country’s broadband networks.

Pricing ranges £5.99/€6.99 per month, or £59.99/€69.99 for an annual subscription. Following its initial European launch markets, additional Western Europe launches this summer include Belgium, Scandinavia and Portugal.

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“Launching in seven markets simultaneously marks a new milestone for Disney+,“ Kevin Mayer, chairman of Walt Disney Direct-to-Consumer & International, said in a statement. “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.”

In addition to myriad streaming devices, Disney+ is also available via Deutsche Telekom in Germany, O2 in the United Kingdom, Telefonica in Spain, TIM in Italy and Canal+ in France (on April 7th). The platform also has distribution through Comcast-owned Sky in the U.K. and Ireland.

After Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ represents the next major American SVOD competitor to Netflix outside the U.S. The Disney+ domestic debut saw more than 10 million accounts registered on the app in one day. Disney+ now has more than 30 million subscribers.

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Analyst: Netflix, YouTube Bandwidth Throttling Not Enough to Prevent Network Overload in Europe

The agreement of video streaming giants Netflix and YouTube to reduce streaming quality in Europe over the coronavirus crisis is not enough to prevent network overload, according to a director at data analytics company GlobalData.

Gaming services must also pitch in.

“Netflix and Alphabet have demonstrated superb industry leadership with this compromise and gesture, but online gaming service providers must now follow suit,” Emma Mohr-McClune, tech service director at GlobalData, said in a statement.Although video streaming represents the lion’s share of residential Internet traffic in Europe, interactive online gaming is a substantially greater threat in network overload terms. Any mass market spike in activity will have significant consequences for vital government and functions for markets in COVID-19 lockdown mode.”

Modeling impending network use during the crisis is uncharted territory, she noted.

“We are anticipating significant network challenges as millions of families spend the next foreseeable weeks in lock-down mode,” she said in a statement. “Problematically, there is no forecast template for the situation in which we find ourselves today. The quantitative industry has always reckoned with network traffic management scenarios with standard peak/off-peak times based on the standard movement and school-attendance time profile of the average online gamer. The COVID-19 lock-down will throw all that to the wall.

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“All European telcos are now putting capacity boost and traffic management processes into place, as a response to the ongoing crisis, but their efforts will be hampered without an honest dialogue between OTTs, state bodies and the network services industry.

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“At the same time, consumers must heed the call of their service providers to exercise responsible usage of the Internet. Staying at home will be particularly taxing on the discipline and patience of millennials and the digital native generation. However, exactly this generation need to show their solidarity in terms of restraint.”

Disney+ Bumps Up Euro Launch; Reveals Pricing

Disney’s foray into branded over-the-top video distribution requires a global footprint to succeed fiscally — and compete with Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

Disney Jan. 21 without explanation disclosed it has moved up by one week the European launch of SVOD service Disney+ to March 24. The service, which will be initially available in the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria and Switzerland, will be priced at £5.99 (U.K.)/€6.99 ($8) monthly, or £59.99/€69.99 for an annual subscription.

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The service, which debuted in the United States on Nov. 12, 2019, drawing 10 million sign-ups in 24 hours, is also slated to bow this summer in Belgium, Scandinavia and Portugal, among others.

Original programming at launch includes “The Mandalorian,” “High School Musical: The Series,” “The World According To Jeff Goldblum,” and a reboot of Lady and the Tramp, among others.

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Disney is projecting from 60 million to 90 million subscribers by 2024 — the same year it expects the service to turn a profit.

Rakuten TV Launching AVOD Service

Spanish-based digital service Rakuten TV Oct. 15 announced the launch of its first ad-supported video-on-demand (AVOD) channel.

The free section of Rakuten TV will include Hollywood movies and TV shows, in addition to local and exclusive content with a combined linear and on-demand access.

The AVOD channel will feature soccer documentary Matchday — Inside FC Barcelona, a series about one of Spain’s top clubs from the inside, offering previously unseen and exclusive scenes from the players’ private lives.

Narrated by John Malkovich, Matchday — Inside FC Barcelona is a creation of Barça Studios, FC Barcelona’s own production house, in collaboration with Kosmos Studios, Rakuten, Inc. in association with Rakuten H Collective Studio and Producciones del Barrio.

Rakuten Viber, Rakuten’s instant messaging service, will also be involved in the project, leveraging its community of 2 million Barça fans to promote Matchday.

Citing growth in consumer interest in AVOD, Rakuten TV claims it would be the first online TV platform combining transactional on-demand video content and AVOD across Europe.

“Rakuten TV continues to evolve rapidly alongside consumer trends within the industry, where there is a clear trend of advertisers moving away from linear TV and towards VOD,” founder/CEO Jacinto Roca said in a statement. “This is the mere beginning of a huge project which will see the launch of additional channels and exclusive content in the coming months”.

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The AVOD service will be available in beta version via Rakuten’s smart TV partners and will be rolled out on other platforms, including mobile and desktop.

Advertising sales will be managed by Rakuten Marketing, a subsidiary of Rakuten. Nielsen will be the data partner (DMP-data management platform) used to target digital advertisements.

“Advertisers and agencies are eager to be among the first to showcase their brands in this exclusive and groundbreaking advertising platform,” Nick Stamos, Rakuten marketing CEO, said. “VOD is emerging as a powerful media channel, our clients have been anticipating this launch from Rakuten TV, so we are very excited to bring this new proposition to market across Europe.”

 

Viacom Expands Pluto TV Access to Android Devices in Europe

Viacom has expanded access to its ad-supported streaming video service, Pluto TV, on Android devices in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Pluto TV will be available via its app on Google Play and connected televisions.

Acquired earlier this year for $340 million, Pluto TV represents Viacom’s most-ambitious attempt to expand brand awareness and exposure in the over-the-top video ecosystem worldwide.

Viacom brands include Paramount Pictures, BET, MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon.

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With Netflix and Amazon Prime Video dominating the SVOD market, Viacom contends free ad-supported streaming video represents a competitive alternative.

Pluto TV users in Germany, Austria and Switzerland have access to more than 30 thematically-curated channels, including Pluto TV Movies, KultKrimi and recently-launched Comedy Central Pluto TV and Comedy Central — Made in Germany.

Pluto TV in the U.K. features more than 60 channels, including Pluto TV Movies, Pluto TV Indies, Pluto TV Inside and Pluto TV Crime.

Pluto TV launched earlier this month on Apple TV and iOS, and is now available on all major mobile devices and TVs.

Olivier Jollet, managing director Europe, Pluto TV, said that as today’s media consumption diversifies, premium video content isn’t limited to the TV.

“With the launch on Android tablets and mobile devices, Pluto TV is available right in our users’ pocket … on the couch, on their daily commute or at their holiday destination.”

WarnerMedia Eyes Global Footprint; Names Giorgio Stock President of Europe, Middle East Operations

WarnerMedia Aug. 2 announced the appointment of Giorgio Stock to the new role of President, WarnerMedia Entertainment Networks, Distribution and Advertising Sales, EMEA and APAC.

With immediate effect, Stock, previously President, EMEA, for Turner, takes on responsibility for all entertainment networks, distribution of all networks, advertising sales and the kids networks operations in Europe, Middle East, Africa and the Asia Pacific region.

Stock will continue to be based in London and reports into Chief Revenue Officer Gerhard Zeiler.

Giorgio Stock

In his new role, Stock will be supported by the leadership team of Ricky Ow, President Turner Asia Pacific, Hervé Payan, CEO HBO Europe, and Jonathan Spink, CEO HBO Asia, all of whom now report into him.

“In his previous role as President, Turner EMEA, Giorgio transformed the organization and built a strong team who together invested in excellent premium content, created new revenue streams and optimized business operations,” Zeiller said.

The appointment represents WarnerMedia’s decision to give Europe and Middle Eastern operations singular leadership through the existing strengths of the Turner and HBO businesses, while also equipping them for further collaboration and growth.

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In addition to Stock, the international executives reporting to Zeiler are Whit Richardson, President Turner Latin America, and Rani Raad, President CNNI Commercial.

Stock joined the company in 2013 as President Turner EMEA with executive oversight of all Turner kids and entertainment networks in the region, including digital and media services of core brands such as Cartoon Network, Boomerang, TNT and TCM as well as kids streaming service Toonix, available direct-to-consumer and via a partnership with HBO Nordic, the network’s over-the-top video service .

His role also included the distribution of CNN’s services, and licensing and merchandising activity in Europe, the Middle East and Africa as well as international L&M liaison.

Stock joined Turner after a 15-year career with Disney where he held publishing and content leadership roles out of Paris, New York, Milan and London overseeing television, publishing, retail, music and gaming.

 

 

 

Euro News: Pay-TV to Add 17.7M Subs; Italian Piracy Declines

Despite ongoing consumer migration toward over-the-top video distribution, European pay-TV operators are projected to add 17.7 million subscribers through 2023, according to new data from Dataxis.

How’s that? In Europe, pay-TV consumption is combined with online TV and OTT video (i.e. Netflix, Amazon Prime Video).

Thus, Euro pay-TV growth, which represents an 8.4% increase from the previous-year period, should bring the total to 230 million subs. This growth will be driven by IPTV (+13.1 million subscribers) and OTT (+6.6m), while cable TV should lose 4.6 million subscribers.

Separately, a new study by research firm Ipsos for Italy’s Federation for the Protection of Audiovisual and Multimedia Content found that consumption of pirated video content dropped 8% in 2018.

While the Italian home entertainment consumption of pirated movies, series and TV shows “declined” to 38%, the majority of illegal viewing included movies (33%), series (21%) and TV shows (20%).

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Illegal consumption of live sports (i.e. soccer) increased 34% with 4.7 million people consuming pirated content compared to 3.5 million in 2017.

Ipsos says piracy cost the Italian home entertainment market about €600 million ($676 million), with almost 6,000 jobs at risk.

The Italian economy lost €1.08 billion ($1.21 billion) due to piracy, including a €455 million ($512.6 million) hit to GDP, and €203 million ($228.6 million) in lost tax revenue.

 

Study: Online TV Is Second-Most-Popular TV Viewing Choice in U.K., Sweden and Germany

A new survey of TV viewers in the United Kingdom, Sweden and Germany found that online TV is now the second most popular viewing source behind pay-TV, with usage ranging from just under 40% in Germany to more than 50% in the U.K. and Sweden.

Nielsen company Gracenote and digital media analyst firm nScreenMedia conducted the survey, “TV Universe — U.K., Sweden, Germany: How People Watch Television Today,” in the first quarter of 2019, focusing on pay TV, free-to-air and online TV viewership in the three European countries that account for 31% of the European Union’s total population, according to Statista.

The online TV viewership growth in the three countries “is a remarkable rise as online TV is a relatively new offering,” according to the research firms. In fact, Netflix launched in the United Kingdom in just 2012. Whereas 12 years ago most homes relied on a single-source for TV, today nearly half of viewers in all three of the countries studied are multi-source television households, the researchers noted.

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“Consumer behavior relating to TV viewing is changing rapidly in Europe as it is around the world,” said Simon Adams, chief product officer, Gracenote, in a statement.

Pay TV is currently the most popular television source in the U.K. and Sweden with nearly two in three consumers in each market using it, the survey found, but in Germany the most popular source is free-to-air TV, which accounts for the vast majority of viewers at nearly eight in 10.

In all three European markets surveyed, consumers pointed to on-screen program guides and user interfaces as being critical tools for finding content to watch. Six in 10 viewers indicated visual imagery and TV artwork displayed in guides exert important influence on their viewing choices. Among the 18-to-24-year-old demographic, the number jumped up to around 90%. In addition, respondents indicated TV show and movie descriptions that shed light on content are also factors in their tune-in decision-making, with 70% of U.K. viewers, 65% of Swedes and 57% of Germans saying the program descriptions were at least somewhat important.

The study also found free-to-air TV is gaining traction on mobile with more free-to-air viewers using broadcaster apps to supplement viewing than pay TV viewers use their operator “TV Everywhere” apps. In fact, more than half of free-to-air users in each country use broadcaster apps.

The smart TV is the preferred device to watch video content on in all three countries, according to the study. A significant 70% of total viewing time is on the TV screen in the United Kingdom and Germany, while in Sweden, it is 60%. Samsung is the most popular TV brand in all three countries.

Other insights include:

  • 17% of the U.K. study group use all three TV sources available to them, higher than in Sweden and Germany;
  • While the on-screen guide is the dominant way Swedes and Brits find content to watch, newspaper TV guides and channel flipping are the main ways for Germans; and
  • 31% of Swedes consider online TV to be their primary TV source, the highest of the three countries studied.

 

“The new TV Universe study shows that online TV has become the second most popular source of TV entertainment in a remarkably short period of time,” said Colin Dixon, founder and chief analyst at nScreenMedia in a statement. “Also telling is the fact that, though most online viewing takes place on the television, consumers don’t have the discovery tools they need to efficiently find something to watch there. Features such as voice and cross-service search are thinly used in each country. There is also plenty of room for improvement with content recommendations as a quarter or less think they accurately reflect their interests.”

The consumer research study conducted from February to March 2019 surveyed 1,500 adult TV viewers in the United Kingdom, Germany and Sweden. The data was weighted to represent the general population of each country. The full report is available for free download now at nScreenMedia.com.