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

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

Kyle Topping  skates for the Cowichan Valley Capitals during the 2015-16 BCHL season. (Citizen file)
Former Caps make news in pro ranks

Kyle Topping and Laurent Brossoit mark achievements

Duncan’s City Hall will get a seismic assessment this year. (File photo)
Duncan City Hall to get seismic assessment

City hopes grants will help pay for seismic upgrades

Vandals damaged a picnic table at Spectacle Lake Park with a chainsaw earlier this month. (Linda Mills photo)
Editorial: Vandals make victims of us all

It is infuriating when people target public property for vandalism.

Vees' Jack Barnes picked up his second goal of the season in the team's 5-0 win over Merritt on Saturday. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Cowichan Capitals in deadline dilemma with 20-year-old players

Hard decisions loom when BCHL may or may not resume play

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools is preparing a rapid response team proposal for submission to the B.C. Ministry of Education. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district chosen as COVID-19 rapid response team

Team to consist of SD68 and Island Health staff, according to B.C. Ministry of Education

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Captain and Maria, a pair of big and affectionate akbash dogs, must be adopted together because they are so closely bonded. (SPCA image)
Shuswap SPCA seeks forever home for inseparable Akbash dogs

A fundraiser to help medical expenses for Captain and Maria earned over 10 times its goal

The missing camper heard a GSAR helicopter, and ran from his tree well waving his arms. File photo
Man trapped on Manning mountain did nearly everything right to survive: SAR

The winter experienced camper was overwhelmed by snow conditions

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, drown in the Sooke River in February 2020. (Contributed photos)
Coroner confirms ‘puddle jumping’ in 2020 drowning deaths of 3 B.C. men

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen pulled into raging river driving through nearby flooding

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay doctor shares experience contracting COVID-19

Castlegar doctor shares her COVID experience

Ashley Paxman, 29, is in the ICU after being struck by a vehicle along Highway 97 Feb. 18, 2021. She remains in critical condition. (GoFundMe)
Okanagan woman in ICU with broken bones in face after being struck by car

She remains in serious condition following Feb. 18 incident

Vancouver International Women in Film Festival kicks off March 5.
Women in Film Festival features two B.C. filmmakers

The 16th annual festival kicks off March 5, 2021

Most Read