(Pocket-lint) - Disney+ is finally available in the UK, Italy, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria and Switzerland, having already launched in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the Netherlands at the end of 2019.
It features more than 500 movies and 300 TV series from day one, including The Mandalorian, Star Wars: The Clone Wars and just about every Marvel and Disney film imaginable. And, 30 series of The Simpsons will be available from the off, with future series coming to the platform too.
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The new streaming service is basically hitting the ground running.
Pocket-lint, therefore, snapped up the chance to chat with Disney's president of streaming services, Michael Paull, ahead of the launch to find out more about its UK and European debut, some of its technical requirements, Star Wars and 8K.
Was there a particular reason for the big gap between the US and UK launches of Disney? When we created the original global rollout strategy for Disney+, we really had a couple of parameters that helped us make decisions on what countries we would launch and when. One criteria was, "Do we have the content available?"
As you can imagine, we've been in the business of licensing our programming to third parties across the globe. And, part of the journey of creating and launching Disney+ was getting those rights back so we can exploit them - as well as making original programming that we think made sense. So, criteria one was, "Is the content offering ready to launch in that region?
The next second criteria was, "Is the country ready to receive a mass market SVOD service like Disney+?"
And then last, we knew that there was a lot of localisation that was going to need to occur - whether it was the user interface, whether it was the content on getting the subs and dubs done, and whether it was the payment mechanisms that needed to work in those countries.
So, we needed to get all of that work done and schedule in a way that made sense.
Is there anything you've learned from the US launch that will benefit the UK? Yeah, we've learned a lot.
You know, when you think about launching a new service, there are all sorts of consumer experience issues that you deal with. We've gotten a lot of feedback directly from consumers, either through social or customer service, or through people reaching out to us directly.
We've also gotten a lot of feedback by watching the data on the apps - our instruments in a way - where we can observe what's working and what's not working. So we've improved the consumer experience. We've improved the merchandising, what programming were exposing and we've improved the payment mechanisms.
We've even launched on more platforms since then.
So, how important was it to launch on as many devices as possible? Very important. We want to make the service available to all consumers on all the devices they have in their households.
What we don't want is that you as a subscriber could only watch it on some of your devices. So we want you to be able to watch our service from all of your devices in your house.
That's why we spent a lot of time and effort making sure that we had broad device support, from web that will work on desktop and laptop computers, to iOS and Android for mobile phones and tablets. As well as gaming consoles, like Xbox and PlayStation, streaming media devices, like Fire TV and Roku, as well as connected TV devices.
A lot of services don't go as broad as we went. What you'll see is we've gone very broad in terms of device support, not just on the different devices, but going back to older versions of those devices and making sure the experience is really great.
Does Disney+ use adaptive streaming? We definitely have adaptive streaming. Depending on the bandwidth you have, or even the device, we're able to adapt the streaming quality to make sure you have a high quality service. If you have a lot of bandwidth, we will stream at the highest quality we think the device can handle.
If you actually have less bandwidth or a device that has less memory or processing power, we will adjust the streaming to suit that device. No matter what device you're on or what bandwidth situation you're in, you get a great experience.
Is that also optional? Can you go into the settings on a mobile device and set it to a lower bitrate, just in case? Yeah, we allow consumers to do some customisation on streaming quality as well as download size.
Some people want the highest quality streaming and/or downloads and some prefer something more measured.
With Disney+ capable of 4K HDR (Dolby Vision), was now the right time to launch all the Star Wars movies in 4K? When we were building the capability to do 4K HDR, I felt very strongly that we needed to get the programming that's really gonna show it.
So the Star Wars content, the Marvel content - those are clearly the types of programming that, as a consumer, you're going to want to see that great picture quality with.
Do you also have any thoughts on 8K at present? I think in the future for sure.
We'll continue to evaluate 8K, although you want to see the support from the device perspective before you invest in making that available.
Do you think we'll reach a time when video streaming and digital media in general will replace physical media entirely? It's an interesting question. I haven't really thought that much about it.
I think different customer segments have interest in different types of formats. So the reality is that I think different people want different things. I just want to make sure that Disney+ provides a great experience and that it's accessible by all potential consumers.
Ultimately what we want to do is serve our consumers. So if they want physical media, then we want them to be able to use physical media. If they want to watch using a streaming service, we want to deliver them a streaming service.
Finally, can you sum up Disney+ in just five words? Ha ha, I would go with the five brands: Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic. I'm going to go with that.