Disney+ launch date and pricing confirmed

23 January 2020   By Dr Lucy Brown, Editor

Disney's new streaming service will be launched a week earlier than expected on Tuesday 24 March.

Pricing has also been confirmed, with a monthly subscription costing £5.99 or a yearly one available for £59.99.

Disney+ replaces the company's previous streaming service DisneyLife, which has been available to UK and Ireland customers since 2015.

The launch marks the latest addition to the UK streaming sector which saw BritBox and Apple+ enter the market in late 2019.

disney+ streaming service

What is Disney+?

Disney+ will offer spin-offs, films and original series from studios owned by Disney including Pixar and Marvel. Confirmed shows include Star Wars spin-off The Mandalorian and a photorealistic adaptation of Lady and the Tramp.

It launched in the US and Canada in November, garnering 8 million downloads by the end of December 2019.

At £5.99, Disney+ is slightly more expensive than its predecessor, although it also includes some 4K content which wasn't the case for DisneyLife. There will also be access to Star Wars and Marvel films, along with some documentaries provided by National Geographic.

Although the release date and pricing of Disney+ has now been confirmed, it remains to be seen whether elements such as the back catalogue to The Simpsons will be included in the UK version as they are in the US one.

Specialist streaming

As part of the preparation for the launch of Disney+, films and television programmes have been pulled from streaming rivals including Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

It's the latest step towards a streaming market that is increasingly segmented, meaning customers have to sign up to several services to receive all the content they might want.

While Netflix was initially the leader among streaming services, its grip on the market has slipped in recent years as other services have prepared to launch.

In December, they announced they were scrapping free trials for new customers, a cornerstone of their business model for several years. They also raised their prices in May 2019, although the basic single user version remained at £5.99.

This price point is becoming standard for new streaming services, with Disney+ and BritBox both offered at £5.99 per month and Apple+ priced at £4.99.

We compared Netflix, Amazon Prime and Now TV in our guide to the most popular streaming services.

Video on demand

The most recent Media Nations report from Ofcom released in August 2019 details the uptake of streaming services across the UK.

By Q1 2019, Disney+'s predecessor DisneyLife only had around 90,000 subscribers compared to the 11.47 million subscribed to Netflix, 5.96 million subscribed to Amazon Prime Video and the 1.62 million subscribed to Now TV.

That report also detailed the number of households taking multiple streaming services with more people taking both Netflix and Amazon Prime (37%) than Netflix alone (33%) for the first time.

47% of UK households took at least one of the four major streaming services (including DisneyLife), although traditional pay TV services like Sky and Virgin Media still have more of a market share.

It's clear, however, that the way we access and consume content is changing, and Disney's decision to parcel as much of their branded content into one streaming service is evidence of that.

That said, if customers subscribed to all six of the major entertainment streaming services available in the UK right now, it would cost around £40. For comparison purposes, Sky's most basic TV package starts from £25 per month.

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