Disney has joined other streamers in cooperating with the European Union to temporarily curtail bandwidth usage of Disney Plus — and reduce video quality — for its scheduled launch next week in several countries during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
In addition, the Mouse House said it is pushing back the launch of Disney Plus in France for two weeks, with it now slated to go live in the country April 7, at the behest of the French government. Disney Plus is still set to debut next Tuesday (March 24) in the U.K., Ireland, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria and Switzerland.
But out of the gate, Disney Plus’ European subscribers will get temporarily degraded video quality, as the EU has requested that streaming-video providers limit their video bit-rates during the coronavirus emergency so as not to overload internet networks.
Disney’s announcement follows moves by Netflix, YouTube, Amazon and Apple to similarly scale back their bandwidth consumption in Europe. That’s in response to lobbying efforts by Thierry Breton, the European Union’s commissioner for internal market, who this week urged streaming-video providers to downgrade to standard-definition format — and forgo HD — to conserve bandwidth as governmental stay-at-home edicts put stress on the region’s networks.
Kevin Mayer, chairman of Disney’s Direct-to-Consumer and International division, announced the decision Saturday.
“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,” Mayer said.
Mayer continued, “In anticipation of high consumer demand for Disney+, we are proactively instituting measures to lower our overall bandwidth utilization 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 bit rates as necessary to ensure they are not overwhelmed by consumer demand. We look forward to the launch of Disney+ and hope it will provide a much-needed respite for families in these challenging and trying times.”
Regarding the delay in France, Mayer said, “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.”