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Disney Plus Launches in the UK and Most of Western Europe

(Image credit: Disney+)

Amid massive global disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Walt Disney Company moved forward of its expansion of Disney Plus, debuting the streaming service on Tuesday in the UK, as well as Austria, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain and Switzerland.

"We humbly hope that this service can bring some much-needed moments of respite for families during these difficult times,” said Kevin Mayer, chairman of Direct-to-Consumer & International for Disney, in a statement.

Subscribers in the UK pay £5.99 per month for Disney Plus, or £59.99 for a full year. Outside the UK, European residents can expect to pay €6.99 per month, or €69.99 a year.

Disney had earlier pushed back its launch of the platform in France to April 7, the same day Disney Plus will debut in Eastern Europe. 

At the behest of bandwidth-concerned European regulators, Disney has agreed to lower the initial bitrate of the service to standard definition resolution, a move it says will reduce its load on local telecom networks by 25%. Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV Plus, YouTube and Facebook are also doing this. 

Notably, Disney Plus users in the United Kingdom are already complaining about how The Simpsons, which has run for nearly 30 years on broadcast TV in a 4:3 aspect ratio, is being awkwardly played in the native 16:9 format of Disney Plus. This is also something U.S. customers have griped about. 

Disney Plus enjoyed a spectacular North American launch, signing up 28.6 million customers from its November 12 debut through December 31.