Disney+ launching in South Africa in winter 2022

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Disney+ is finally coming to South Africa!
Disney+ is finally coming to South Africa!
Photo: Martin Bureau/AFP
  • Disney's subscription video streaming service Disney+ will finally launch in South Africa around June 2022.
  • In a statement, the Walt Disney Company Africa said: "As confirmed in The Walt Disney Company's Q3 earnings call, Disney+ will launch in South Africa in winter 2022."
  • More details will be shared closer to launch.

Disney's subscription video streaming service Disney+ will finally launch in South Africa around June 2022. Viewers will be able to watch new series like Star Wars: The Mandalorian, Loki and a vast collection of content from National Geographic, Marvel Studios, Pixar and Disney.

The Walt Disney Company released its third-quarter 2021 financial results on Thursday night, where CEO Bob Chapek told investors on the company's financial results conference call that the launch of Disney+ in Eastern Europe is being pushed back from this year to 2022.

The Mouse House is doing this to enable a broader launch in "summer 2022" that will definitely include parts of the Middle East and South Africa, but that might exclude the rest of the African continent.

America's "summer 2022" means winter 2022 in Africa, starting from June.

Bob Chapek said that the "expanded Disney+ footprint will include parts of the Middle East and South Africa".

The Walt Disney Company Africa late on Thursday night told Channel24 in a statement: "As confirmed in The Walt Disney Company's Q3 earnings call, Disney+ will launch in South Africa in winter 2022. We will share more details as we approach the launch next year."

South Africa, Africa's most sophisticated TV market on the continent, will likely be the only African country where Disney+ will be launched initially. Chapek reiterated in the conference call that "our direct-to-consumer business is the company's top priority".

A year and a half after its launch, Disney+ has now reached 116 million subscribers worldwide by 3 July, bundling a collection of library and brand-new original content from across multiple of its studios and brands under one stream-viewing umbrella, including Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic.

The streaming race in SA

The first date fixture for a launch date of Disney+ for South Africa comes a week after a further two subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) services launched in the country: ITV Studios and the BBC's BritBox SA, as well as eVOD from eMedia Holdings' e.tv.

BritBox SA and eVOD joined the existing Showmax from MultiChoice, Netflix SA, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, PCCW Media's VIU, Vodacom Video Play and TelkomONE.

Meanwhile the SABC, far behind in the video streaming race, plans to launch its video streamer, modelled after the BBC's iPlayer, before the end of its current financial year.

South African consumers are still waiting for other global streamers like WarnerMedia's HBO Max, along with Paramount+, NBCUniversal's Peacock and Discovery+ to launch locally.

While Disney has started to shut down hundreds of its linear TV channels globally, the expectation is that its existing group of pay-TV channels under its media networks division distributed into Africa and South Africa will remain on the air after Disney+ launches in winter 2022 for two major reasons.

The first will be to use these linear powerhouse TV channels as marketing and promotion avenues to raise awareness of Disney+ and to drive consumers to sample and subscribe. Secondly, with low and expensive broadband penetration and cost in South Africa, while the traditional pay-TV market still grows, Disney has millions of traditional pay-TV viewers from kids to adults who won't immediately move to Disney+ and who can't be cut off.

The third most in-demand streaming platform

The latest market research from Parrot Analytics has found that Disney+ has become the third most in-demand video streaming platform for original content in the United States and around the world, trailing just behind the more established Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

Disney+ has dominated the video streaming original content game, accounting for the top two shows by demand globally on streamers, and with four of the top five in America during the second quarter this year.

All three Marvel series released this year on Disney+ became the most in-demand shows in the world within two weeks of launching, and Disney+'s original flagship series The Mandalorian continues to draw exceptional worldwide and American demand under viewers despite not launching a new episode since December 2020.

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