Disney+ to Become Available Via Sky U.K. Under New Multiyear Deal

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Sky

The nonexclusive pact that also covers Ireland comes ahead of the Disney+ launch in big European markets March 24.

Walt Disney has signed a nonexclusive distribution deal for its streaming service Disney+ with Comcast-owned European pay TV giant Sky as part of a new multi-partnership between the companies.

The fact that it is not exclusive means that other U.K. pay TV and mobile giants, such as Liberty Global's Virgin Media and BT, could also unveil distribution deals for Disney+.

Sky didn't immediately unveil similar deals for its other major markets of Germany, Austria and Italy. 

Disney+, which launches in the U.K. and other major European markets March 24, will first become available on high-end pay TV service Sky Q, followed by Sky's streaming service Now TV in the coming months. The new deal between the industry giants also includes the first-pay window for 20th Century titles.

The deal, unveiled Tuesday morning London time, comes after Disney+ signed a similar deal in mid-December with French pay TV company Canal Plus. Financial terms of the agreement weren't disclosed.

Disney+, which offers classic and new content, such as The Mandalorian, from the Disney, Pixar, Lucasfilm, Marvel and National Geographic universes, was originally set to launch in key European markets March 31, but the company recently moved up the launch date by a week.

Disney said a day after the launch of Disney+ in the U.S. in November that the streaming service had hit 10 million signups. After the market close on Tuesday, Disney will report its quarterly earnings and provide an update on the number of Disney+ users.

The Disney+ deal extends the long-running relationship between Disney and Sky, which have struck various previous content licensing deals. Comcast beat out Disney for ownership of Sky in 2018.

The Disney+ deal continues Sky’s strategy of serving as an aggregator of streaming services and content. It also offers Netflix, all Warner content and BT Sport.

Sky management has argued that integrating streaming platforms into its service offering keeps its subscribers content and benefits both partners. Earlier this year, Sky extended its integration deal with Netflix. "This is a great start to what is set to be another strong year for Sky," said Stephen van Rooyen, CEO of Sky U.K. and Ireland, at the time. “Our customers love Netflix content and our partnership continues to go from strength to strength."

Jeremy Darroch, group CEO of Sky, said: "We’ve built a strong partnership with Disney over three decades and we’re pleased that our customers in the U.K. and Ireland can continue to enjoy their world-class content — all in one place on Sky Q. This is a great start to what is set to be another stellar year for Sky — in 2020 we’ll launch new channels and genres, start building Sky Studios Elstree and we’ve got brilliant new and returning originals coming too."

Added Kevin Mayer, chairman of Walt Disney Direct-to-Consumer & International: "We are delighted that Sky is selling the Disney+ service on their platform and, along with our other distribution partners, will deliver exceptional reach at launch."