March 10, 2020
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.
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.
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].”