Disney Plus to Launch on U.K. Pay-TV Operator Sky Under Multi-Year Deal

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Disney and Comcast-backed pay-TV operator Sky have struck a multi-year deal to bring Disney Plus to Sky Q and Now TV in the U.K. and Ireland.

The Mouse House streamer, which will be available for purchase as an app, will first launch on set-top box service Sky Q, followed by streaming service Now TV in the coming months.

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The deal also includes the first-pay window for 20th Century film titles such as “Le Mans ’66” and “Terminator: Dark Fate,” which will continue to be made available to Sky Cinema customers.

It is believed that Sky bested the likes of BT and Virgin Media to secure the lucrative deal with Disney, which is similar in scope to its recently renewed multi-year agreement with Netflix.

Disney previously struck a distribution deal with French pay-TV firm Canal Plus in December. However, that deal was exclusive, with Canal Plus serving as the sole distributor for Disney Plus in France, and forcing other telco groups such as Orange, SFR, Bouygues Telecom and Free to go through Canal Plus to access the service.

It is as yet unclear whether the Sky-Disney deal is exclusive.

Disney Plus will launch in the U.K. on March 24 — a week earlier than its originally slated March 31 date.

Jeremy Darroch, group chief executive for Sky, said: “We’ve built a strong partnership with Disney over three decades and we’re pleased that our customers in the U.K. and Ireland can continue to enjoy their world-class content – all in one place on Sky Q.

“This is a great start to what is set to be another stellar year for Sky – in 2020 we’ll launch new channels and genres, start building Sky Studios Elstree and we’ve got brilliant new and returning originals coming too.”

Kevin Mayer, chairman of Walt Disney direct-to-consumer and international, added: “We are delighted that Sky is selling the Disney+ service on their platform and, along with our other distribution partners, will deliver exceptional reach at launch.”

According to Paolo Pescatore, tech, media and telco analyst with PP Foresight, the deal suggests that an exclusive deal for a U.K. provider is still up for grabs.

“It is highly likely that a mobile operator will secure this, mirroring Disney’s strategy in the U.S. Therefore, EE looks to be in prime position given its track record in securing key premium content partnerships. Disney brings the most sought-after breath of premium programming for all genres.”

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