The upcoming Disney+ streaming service will not launch in Europe in 2019, meaning that Star Wars fans across the continent will be unable to access new Star Wars content at launch.
The news will disappoint fans as the new streaming platform will be home to the seventh season of The Clone Wars, new live action series The Mandalorian, a Cassian Andor focused series as well as other as yet unannounced series in development.
In October, the European Parliament voted in favour of a new quota system for content on streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+, those platforms will have to make sure that at least 30 percent of their catalogues in Europe come from European countries. The move is expected to be ratified by the EU later this month.
In September, Disney failed to secure the purchase of Sky (via Fox), meaning that Disney fell far short of that quota. Buying Sky would have have acquired Disney television productions in the UK, Irish, German, Austrian, Spanish and Italian markets.
Many European countries already have quotas for movie theatres and TV networks as a means to foster cultural diversity, and ensure that national films can compete with global blockbusters. Disney has historically only had a small TV footprint in Europe, relying on marketing its content to other channels and outlets.
The EU’s proposals, which will soon become law, will require that the streaming services ensure that at least 30% of their on-demand catalogues are original productions made in each EU country where a service is provided. Individual EU Member States can even choose to set the level as high as 40%. The streaming services will also have to ensure visibility and prominence for local content, so there can be no burying of content.
Disney may look to produce more of its streaming service shows in Europe, but more likely will seek to initially purchase production houses, and content from local markets. Amazon have already made such moves.
Kevin Mayer, President of the Direct-to-Consumer and International Division of the Walt Disney Company confirmed the news of a delay in a European launch to Capital Magazine in France.
What will your “Disney +” project look like, which will compete with Netflix?
Our future Disney streaming service will be launched at the end of 2019 in the United States, and a little later in Europe. It will reach families and will broadcast our best franchises exclusively: Disney, Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, Avatar, and even National Geographic. To this will be added many original programs that we are working on, including a new Star Wars series .
When asked about market specific content, he confirmed Disney are planning on producing local content, which will help them comply with the legal changes.
Do you plan specific programs for the French market?
Yes! Because France is a very important market for us. These programs will be exclusive for France as a first step. But if they walk, they will have vocation to be diffused on all our territories.
He also confirmed prior talk of the service being priced to compete with Netflix.
What will be the price of the monthly subscription to this offer?
I can assure you one thing: it will be cheaper than Netflix! (whose subscription offer starts at 7.99 euros).