Disney+ confirms European roll-out as Iger praises “extremely positive” Dutch launch

Disney+ has finalised its roll-out in Western Europe, with plans now firmed up to debut in the UK and a handful of other markets in late March.

The fledgling streamer ­– which will officially launch in the US, Netherlands and Canada on 12 November, and in Australia and New Zealand on 19 November – is to launch in the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain from 31 March.

Disney boss Bob Iger revealed the roll-out during the company’s full-year and Q4 earnings call on Thursday (7 November), adding that the platform would also be made available in a few other markets in the region.

At launch, Disney+ will provide access to more than 500 film and more than 7,500 episodes of library TV content, including 30 seasons of The Simpsons. By year five, the catalogue is expected to span more than 620 movies and over 10,000 television episodes along with “countless shorts and features”.

The exec said the business was “very pleased” with the Dutch test launch of Disney+, noting that user feedback had been “extremely positive with praise for the elegance and ease of the interface and the quality of the overall experience”.

“The ability to download the content has also been a big hit, and the brand-centric navigation has generated an elegance and an ease of use that was well received by users,” he said.

“The viewing patterns in the Netherlands test were also encouraging. Even without access to our full library or any original content, the service connected with users across all four quadrants, male and female, adults and kids, driven by the breadth of our content and the affinity people of all ages have for it.”

Iger said that rather than offering a monthly price, “what we are really selling was the three-year subscription” which he called a “big deal” in lowering churn. However, he added that, “We’re still relatively small in terms of the scope of things in terms of number of subscribers.”

The demographics for Disney+ in the Netherlands were “broader” than previously thought, said Iger, going “well beyond kids and family”.

“This is a four quadrant product, with adult men and women, as well as kids [and] families watching or using the service. We also saw that people’s interest in the product itself was very, very broad meaning across all of the brands, [there] wasn’t a specific and that also bodes very well.”

Iger added that distribution pacts have now been struck with Amazon Fire, Samsung and LG. The business previously confirmed that the service would be made available on Apple, Google, Microsoft, Sony and Roku.

FX and Hulu collaboration

Iger also confirmed that SVOD service Hulu, for which Disney now has operational control, will be the official streaming home for cable channel FX beginning in March.

“As I’ve mentioned on previous calls, FX is a producer of high-quality, award-winning content and will become a key content driver for Hulu,” he said.

“Since 2014, FX has earned 277 Emmy nominations and 157 Emmys. The awards FX has garnered come from programming that is recognised for its quality and its boldness. And the Hulu and FX teams have been collaborating to develop an exciting strategy to bring the full breadth of FX content and production capabilities to Hulu subscribers with the introduction of FX on Hulu.”

FX on Hulu will include all seasons and more than 40 FX series and will offer episodes of current and new FX series immediately after they air on the linear network.

Additionally, FX will also produce original series for FX on Hulu, starting with four new series in 2020, including Alex Garland’s Devs, the Cate Blanchett-starring Mrs. America, Kate Mara-starring A Teacher and The Old Man starring Jeff Bridges and John Lithgow.

“This is a great way to expand the FX brand and an important step for Hulu as it adds original content to compete more aggressively with new and legacy DTC platforms,” said Iger.

The exec added that FX content on Hulu will be bolstered by originals from ABC and Fox Television Studios as well as Fox Movie Studios and Fox Searchlight.

Iger added during the call that while Searchlight and Fox Movie Studios have had a long-running output deal with HBO that runs for a few more years, it is “likely” that the output will eventually move to Hulu.

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