Don’t expect Disney+ in Africa any time soon

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When Disney unveiled the full lineup and pricing for the hotly anticipated Disney+ streaming service, we all got really excited. Boasting incredible series and movie offerings like The Mandalorian, Loki, Star Wars: The Clone Wars and more from their massive Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar and National Geographic libraries, and all for the relatively dirt cheap price of $6.99 per month, many of us were already asking where to send our money to. Seems we aren’t sending it anywhere. Not for a while at least.

During Disney CEO Bob Iger’s presentation investor briefing in which Disney+ was unveiled, it was revealed that the service would launch in the US on 12 November before expanding globally. Warning bells went off in the Critical Hit offices when Africa was not mentioned in the list of regions. We often get left off things (or bundled up with other regions) so I didn’t worry too much. However, to play it safe I immediately reached out to Disney SA to hear what was happening, but they didn’t know much more than what we were hearing. That “global” aspect of the planned rollout was reiterated again as a form of reassurance though.

However, thanks to local entertainment blogger TVWithThinus spotting it, it appears that reassurance was for naught. Within Iger’s presentation after the initial reveal was a slide showing Disney’s regional rollout plans for all “major markets”. Africa is clearly not a major market.

As you can see, there are no plans to launch in Africa within the first eight yearly quarters. With Disney+ launching close to the end of this year, that means that we’re looking at 2022 at the earliest before the service officially hits our shores. I have to admit, I was a little surprised by this. Every year, press get invited to the Disney Annual Showcase where the local branch of the House of Mouse updates us on all the plans for the coming year. One thing that always shines through is just how invested Disney is in Africa, in delivering content both for and from the continent. To see it not even on the plans here was definitely unexpected.

As for all that incredible content that will be hitting Disney+, we can just hope that broadcasting agreements will be drawn up with local broadcasters like DStv to screen these shows. Queries to them have been unanswered thus far, but that’s exactly what rival Netflix did with all its original shows long before the streaming giant finally appeared on our shores officially.

Of course, people were also unofficially watching Netflix locally long before it launched here, using DNS routing and VPN services to access the US library. At the time, Netflix was aware of these connections, but since people still had to pay them a subscription fee, they didn’t mind. When they actually expanded their footprint to include regions like South Africa, that’s when they began clamping down on these mechanisms. Who knows if Disney+ will take the same route.

There’s also the slim possibility that we are actually included in the rollout plans. Often in gaming, we get classified as part of the EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) region. The problem here is of course that Disney’s plans clearly show their European launch dates. One can still hope though.

Either way, in a country like South Africa that already has a huge culture of piracy when it comes to entertainment media, this latest revelation is not going to help matters one bit.

Last Updated: April 17, 2019

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