During the media giant’s fourth-quarter earnings call, Disney chief Bob Iger revealed that upcoming steaming service Disney+ will launch on March 31 in the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, as well as a number of other Western European regions.
The confirmation comes just days before Disney+ officially rolls out in the US, Canada and Netherlands on November 12, while the previously announced, Australia and New Zealand are set to get the service on November 19.
While the price of the service in the new European regions is still unknown, Disney+ will cost €6.99 monthly (€69.99 per year) in Netherlands. Meanwhile, US consumers will pay US$6.99 per month and Canadians will fork out CAD$8.99 per month (or CAD$89.99 per year). In Australia and New Zealand, it will be priced at AUD$8.99 and NZD$9.99, respectively.
In his call, Iger said a test of the platform that offered a free curated collection of library content performed well in Netherlands. “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. He also noted that the ability to download content was well received by test users.
At launch, Iger said the platform will offer 500-plus movies and more than 7,500 episodes of library television content. This will include 10 original exclusive episodic series (such as the anticipated live-action Star Wars series The Mandalorian), movies and documentaries. Over the course of Disney+’s first year, more than 45 originals are expected to bow across its global markets, and more than 620 movies and over 10,000 TV episodes by year five.
The downside to launching the service has been its fiscal strain on the company. In Q4, the operating loss of Disney’s direct-to-consumer and international segment increased to US$740 million, from US$340 million in the year-ago period. The loss was attributed to the consolidation of Hulu, and costs linked to the launch of Disney+ and the company’s ongoing investment in ESPN+. Segment revenue for the quarter rose from US$0.8 billion to US$3.4 billion.
As for other division performance, The Lion King, Toy Story 4 and Aladdin helped Disney roar back to life in Q4 after Fox films flops, such as Dark Phoenix, sunk the company’s third quarter profits. The features’ box office success drove Disney’s studio entertainment revenue up 52% to US$3.3 billion, while the segment’s operating income rose 79% to US$1,079 million. The results were offset by poor performances of Fox movies Ad Astra, Art of Racing In The Rain and the aforementioned Dark Phoenix.
Movies, as well as higher theme park revenues, bolstered the media giant’s fourth quarter revenue by 34% to US$19.1 billion compared to US$14.3 billion in the year-ago period. And though Disney’s diluted earnings per share fell 28% to US$1.07 from US$1.48 in the prior-year quarter, the results topped Wall Street estimates of adjusted earnings of 96 cents per share on revenue of US$19.03 billion.
In its parks, experiences and products segment, sales of Frozen and Toy Story merch and higher guest spending at Disneyland Resort—partly due to raised ticket prices—drove revenue up 8% to US$6.7 billion. Growth at Disneyland was partially offset by expenses tied to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, which opened on May 31.
Conversely, the impact of Hurricane Dorian drove down attendance at Disney World and Hong Kong Disneyland also suffered with foot traffic due to recent political unrest in the region.