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.

Just Posted

Bringing families together during the Christmas season

Points West Stettler hosts special dinners for residents and their families

PHOTOS: Stettler Elementary School students celebrate the ‘sounds’ of the season

Local families enjoyed seeing youngsters perform at the Performing Arts Centre

Finalists announced in Community Futures East Parkland’s third annual Marketing Plan Challenge

Small to medium sized businesses within the CFEP region were invited to participate

Stettler County council requests amendments that could allow for more dwellings in controversial development of Buffalo Lake

Project density limitations would not be financially viable, developer tells County

Clearview and staff are providing $1,525 towards ensuring families have enough to eat over the holidays

“Food Bank usage in Stettler and other areas continues to increase.”

VIDEO: Success of wildlife corridors in Banff National Park has advocates wanting more

Demand for more highway protection escalated after seven elk were killed by a semi-trailer near Canmore

1 dead, 2 in Lacombe Police custody after report of gunshot wound

Incident was deemed suspicious, subsequently the LPS entered into an investigation

Rebels win two straight heading into Christmas break

Two third period goals give Red Deer 3-1 win over Swift Current

Five things of note from Trudeau’s mandate letters to his ministers

Some marching orders come from the Liberal Party’s campaign, while others are new additions

Scheer’s resignation tips party into internal war over school tuition payments

The Conservatives have a Toronto convention already scheduled for April

Two adults, two youths from Maskwacis charged in ATV, gun theft

Wetaskiwin RCMP Investigate Break, Enter & Theft and Weapons Offences - Arrests

Blackfalds RCMP officer’s firearm discharged in struggle

Red Deer and Sylvan Lake RCMP assist after police vehicle stolen

Indigenous mother wins $20,000 racial discrimination case against Vancouver police

Vancouver Police Board ordered to pay $20,000 and create Indigenous-sensitivity training

‘He was good for the West:’ Sadness, surprise in Saskatchewan over Scheer

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and his predecessor, Brad Wall, both thanked Andrew Scheer

Most Read