Vodafone Objects to Disney+ Telefónica Pact

The day after Spain’s telecom giant Telefónica and Disney announced an exclusive distribution deal for subscription streaming video service Disney+ through the former’s Movistar subsidiary, U.K.-based mobile carrier Vodafone is crying foul.

Disney+ streaming service is set to launch in select European countries on March 24.

Spanish daily El Espanol reports Vodafone sent a letter to the National Commission of Markets and Competition (CNMC) alleging the Disney/Telefónica deal amounts to “covert exclusivity” creating obstacles in its separate negotiation with Disney. An agreement Vodafone said “seemed closed” a few weeks ago.

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For Vodafone, which has seen its market share in Spain drop from 33% to less than 20% last year, according to Statista, securing a Disney+ distribution deal is key.

Vodafone claims the Telefónica and Disney deal “goes against its position as a dominant operator” and makes it difficult for other operators, including France’s Orange, to access Disney content within the legal framework established by the CNMC.

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Specifically, the government established regulation aimed at preventing companies with majority market share from using their clout to prevent competitors from negotiating for third-party content such as sports, movies and TV shows.

Vodafone cited similar government action when Movistar attempted shut out competitors securing exclusive rights to La Liga soccer, a move nixed by regulators.

Vodafone, according to El Espanol, contends that if CNMC does not intercede in the Disney+ agreement, “it would be accepting a fraud in the spirit of the [regulations].”

 

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