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

School District 20 to improve childcare services for those working in emergency services

The district has launched a survey to aid in the consultation process

Scholarship up for grabs for Rossland art students

The $250 scholarship is being provided by the Rossland Council for Arts and Culture

COVID-19 adds worry and unexpected costs to Castlegar woman’s cancer fight

Community fundraiser raises $9,000 for Jennifer Rodrigues’ family

6.5-magnitude earthquake in Idaho shakes the Kootenays

An earthquake was reportedly felt just before 5 p.m. throughout parts of B.C. and Alberta

Rosslanders share own positive experiences during COVID-19 situation

Gardening and spending time with family some activities residents have been enjoying more of lately

First Nations, remote communities need special attention in pandemic, Freeland says

Health-care workers, seniors, Indigenous Peoples some of people most at risk, health officials say

Some April Fool’s Day jokes bring much-needed laughter; others tone deaf to COVID-19

Police are warning the public not to use the ongoing pandemic as a punchline

Canada’s 75% wage subsidy is coming, but not for another six weeks: finance minister

Subsidy will cost Canada $71 billion, but push down cost of emergency benefit, Morneau said

Call before you dig into spring projects during isolation: BC 1 Call

BC 1 Call gives free checks for utilities in the area of a desired outdoor project

B.C.’s intersection speed cameras putting more tickets in the mail

One Nanaimo location delayed after speed limit reduced

B.C. records five new COVID-19 deaths, ‘zero chance’ life will return to normal in April

Province continue to have a recovery rate of about 50 per cent

High cost, limited coverage for asthma medicine a concern during COVID-19 pandemic

B.C. man says he skips puffs to save money, but others have it worse

B.C. man sick with COVID-19 calls it a ‘horrible disease’

Tim Green says he has ‘extreme coughing fits every hour’ to clear his lungs

Trudeau says Parliament needs to sit to pass expanded COVID-19 benefits

Wage subsidy program has been greatly expanded since it was first approved

Most Read