FILE - In this Monday, Aug. 7, 2017, file photo, The Walt Disney Co. logo appears on a screen above the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Disney Plus has launched in Canada, becoming the newest arrival in the growing menu of TV options. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP Photo/Richard Drew, File

VIDEO: Disney Plus gives Canadians a streaming platform that nearly matches U.S. version

The Walt Disney Company’s new subscription platform unveiled a comprehensive offering of nearly 500 films

Disney Plus got off to a strong start on Tuesday by tossing Canadian viewers a bone — and it wasn’t just a remake of “Lady and the Tramp.”

The Walt Disney Company’s new subscription platform unveiled a comprehensive offering of nearly 500 films and 7,500 episodes of TV shows, and the lineup almost mirrored what was available on the same-day launch in the United States.

For a country that’s spent years paying for what many feel is a lesser Netflix Canada, and waited patiently for other U.S. streaming competitors to shuffle into the Canadian market, the practically seamless reveal of the Disney Plus selection was a welcome revelation, said media and technology analyst Carmi Levy.

“We are getting largely what our American neighbours are getting for a roughly similar price,” he said.

“There are almost no drawbacks to being a Canadian here … you’re finally getting what you’ve been hoping for.”

And whether you’re interested in Marvel’s blockbusters “Captain Marvel” and “Doctor Strange” or older films such as Bette Midler comedy “Big Business,” almost all of the titles available on Disney Plus match on both sides of the border.

There are a small number of exceptions, though, such as “High School Musical 2,” and Marvel TV series “X-Men: Evolution” and “Runaways,” which are not streamable in Canada.

Some newer titles, such as “Coco” and “Black Panther,” are still locked up under agreements with Netflix, which means they show up in searches and seem to be on Disney Plus, until you try to play them. That’s when Disney tells you that “due to existing agreements” they’re coming soon.

A couple years ago, easy access to entertainment would have been unthinkable because the rights to TV and films were locked in a complicated web of negotiations and long-term deals.

The old way of licensing rights worked by territories, and a distributor such as Disney or Warner Bros. would sign agreements that locked up packs of their titles with a broadcaster or streamer. When the streaming industry developed, those deals became a competitive setback because it only built walls around the programming.

For instance, a popular show like ”American Horror Story” would be available on Netflix in the U.S., but tied up in a different agreement for Canada, which meant Netflix couldn’t carry it here.

Disney is among the entertainment industry giants that’s spent the past decade pulling back those rights with an eye on launching its own streaming platform. The company also spent billions buying up other valuable Hollywood businesses with their own stockpiles of entertainment — in particular 20th Century Fox earlier this year.

The goal is to emerge from the ongoing battle for viewership dollars with a dominant position, but with it Disney gets more control over its own titles and how much it charges to access them.

In Canada, Disney Plus costs $8.99 per month, or $89.99 per year, for a vast selection of offerings from Disney’s many brands, which include Pixar, Marvel and National Geographic. There’s also an array of original shows and films, including the Star Wars spinoff TV series “The Mandalorian,” an episodic update to “High School Musical,” and that remake of “Lady and the Tramp.”

The streaming service also comes stacked with an extensive library of Disney titles, which range from animated classics “The Lion King” to Disney TV movies from decades past, and selections from the Fox library, including “Never Been Kissed,” “The Sound of Music” and “Home Alone.”

“It’s nothing short of a broadside against Netflix,” Levy said of Disney’s biggest competitor, which is constantly beefing up its own “original content” arsenal.

“They’re coming in with competitive pricing, but more importantly the kind of content that literally no one else can match.”

Fellow newcomer Apple used a similar strategy to Disney on a smaller scale in early November. Apple TV Plus, its new worldwide streaming platform, only carries programs Apple owns, turning the iPhone company into a Hollywood producer.

READ MORE: Disney Plus streaming service hits Canada with tech hurdles

But launching a streaming service involves more than just beefing up content, as became clear on Tuesday morning when Disney Plus began to experience an array of problems that left many new subscribers locked out of their accounts or facing various technical glitches.

Some posted screenshots of error messages that showed characters from Disney’s animated movies “Wreck-It Ralph” and “Ralph Breaks the Internet.”

Other users in several regions of Canada said they received error messages which blocked them from the service, telling them they lived outside the countries where Disney Plus was available.

A representative for Disney provided a written statement on the widespread problems on its highly anticipated launch date, but did not address the specific technical glitch.

“The consumer demand for Disney Plus has exceeded our high expectations,” wrote spokesman Peter Pitino.

“We are pleased by this incredible response and are working to quickly resolve the current user issue. We appreciate your patience.”

Disney is banking on its appeal out of the gate, with Disney Plus launching in North America across nearly all major mobile and connected TV devices. That’ll give viewers an opportunity to sign up whether they use Apple, Google, Microsoft, Roku or Sony products.

Viewers can sample the service with a free seven-day trial.

David Friend, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Time’s running out for say in new Vernon park

A survey seeking input on the city’s new park design is set to close on July 20

Morning Start: Big Bertha is the oldest cow to ever live

Your morning start for Tuesday, July 14, 2020

COVID-19 cancels 2 main Armstrong-Spallumcheen events

Community Excellence Awards, Citizen of the Year, cancelled for 2020; both to return in 2021

Spallumcheen looks to photo contest for wesbite revamp

Residents would submit entries covering the four seasons for use on township website, documents

Vernon golf course to host national event local qualifier

The Rise hosts the RBC PGA Scramble qualifier Sunday, July 26

B.C. records 62 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths since Friday

Province has just over 200 active cases

Canadians torn on scaling back COVID-19 benefits to save money: poll

Of those surveyed, 78 per cent said they were worried about the size of the deficit

Summerland approves solar project

Despite community opposition, council voted 4-3 for Cartwright Mountain location

Police search for suspect in assault on woman in downtown Kelowna

Kelowna police received a report a woman had been assaulted by an unknown man on July 12

‘Trauma equals addiction’ – why some seek solace in illicit substances

Part 2: Many pushed into addiction by ‘toxic stress,’ says White Rock psychologist

Hotel rooms for B.C. homeless too hasty, NDP government told

Businesses forced out, but crime goes down, minister says

Two positive COVID-19 cases at Oliver farm

The risk of exposure to the general public related to this farm is considered to be low

Oliver Town Hall closed to public as staffer displays COVID-19 symptoms

One staff member at Oliver Town Hall is being tested for coronavirus

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

Most Read