Leveraging a 20-year output relationship, Disney and Canal Plus have set an exclusive deal that will see the leading French pay-TV provider distribute Disney+ when the streaming service launches in France next March.
Disney+, which is up and running in the U.S., Canada, New Zealand and Australia, will add the UK and Western Europe on March 31.
Maxime Saada, chairman and CEO of Groupe Canal+ confirmed the news on Twitter. “Le force est avec nous,” he wrote, which translates to “The force is with us.”
French newspaper Les Echos broke the news of the deal. Kevin Mayer, who heads Disney’s Direct-to-Consumer & International unit, told the paper the agreement is the only major distribution deal the company has closed aside from a major Verizon pact in the U.S. Verizon customers are getting one free year of Disney+ service, and that offer helped propel Disney to 10 million sign-ups in the first day after Disney+ went live on November 12.
The two companies have long had a distribution relationship, which in recent years has encompassed Marvel, Lucasfilm and Pixar film titles. In addition to the Disney+ offering, Canal Plus will continue to be the exclusive distributor of Disney channels in France.
Mayer said the Canal Plus deal establishes a template that the company will pursue around the world as it drives toward its goal of 60 million to 90 million subscribers by 2024. “In some countries, the demand will mostly be focused on OTT, with customers downloading the Disney+ app,” the French-language paper quoted him as saying. “In others, we will form other partnerships. In France, we will come to market with both models, but there’s no doubt that we will hit more of the world by partnering with Canal Plus.”
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