Disney+ launches in Europe with 25% bandwidth reduction

Disney+ launches in Europe with 25% bandwidth reduction due to COVID-19

24 March 2020 | Natalie Bannerman

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Disney +, Disney’s much anticipated streaming service, launches today in Europe at a lower bandwidth consumption to help lower congestion on networks.

Due to the onset of COVID-19 forcing millions across the continent to work from home, the European communications networks have been struggling to keep up with demand.

Earlier this month, Thierry Breton, the European Union’s Internal Market and Services Commissioner has called on streaming services to take steps to lower its bandwidth consumption in order to prevent an internet gridlock.

In response, both Netflix and YouTube have agreed to downgrade their video streaming quality from HD to SD for an extended period.

For its part, Disney + has agreed to reduce the streaming speed of content by 25%, bringing it in line with the pledges of Netflix, YouTube and Amazon’s Prime Video. The service is being made available in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria and Switzerland.

“In line with Disney’s longstanding commitment to act responsibly, we are responding to the request of European Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton to work together to ensure the smooth functioning of the broadband infrastructure,” said Kevin Mayer, chairman of direct-to-consumer & international, The Walt Disney Company.

“In anticipation of high consumer demand for Disney+, we are proactively instituting measures to lower our overall bandwidth utilisation by at least 25% in all of the markets launching Disney+ on March 24th.”

 In the coming days, we will be monitoring Internet congestion and working closely with Internet service providers to further reduce bitrates as necessary to ensure they are not overwhelmed by consumer demand.”

The French government has taken even more drastic measures and asked Disney + to delay the launch of its service in the country.

“To our French fans, the Disney+ service is coming, but at the request of the French government, we have agreed to postpone the launch until Tuesday, 7 April 2020,” said Mayer.

Starting today users across those seven markets will have access toover 500 films, 26 exclusive original movies and series and thousands of television episodes from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic to name a few.

Additionally, customers can also access the service across multiple distributors in Europe with regional deals including:

  • Deutsche Telekom in Germany
  • O2 in the UK
  • Telefonica in Spain
  • TIM in Italy

Despite the state of emergency caused by the Coronavirus, ad-based video on demand (AVOD) services like Disney + are set to benefit greatly from growing subscriber numbers.

“New services such as Disney+ will scale up their subscriber numbers significantly,” said Danyaal Rashid, thematic analyst at GlobalData.

“COVID-19 may represent a watershed moment where free-to-access, ad-based video on demand (AVOD) services come to the fore. AVOD platforms make revenue based on the number of ads consumed, so increased viewing hours equals increased sales.”

“Online streaming services provided by brands such as Netflix and now Disney+ which is launching in the UK this week are likely to see 12% growth this year, adding 6 billion more in cumulative revenues,” said Maria Rua Aguete, technology fellow and executive director, media, service providers, and platforms at Omdia.

“Increased consumption of digital content from mobile apps to free TV streaming and gaming has already been observed in China and Italy and can go up to 50% in traffic increase.”