As Disney+ prepares to launch in the UK next week, awareness of the streaming service is already high and it has added a distribution deal with mobile operator O2 to a multi-year partnership with Sky.

New O2 customers, and those upgrading their packages, will get a free, six-month taster of the new streaming service, Variety reported. Other O2 customers can add the £5.99-a-month service and then receive a £2-a-month discount on their phone deal.

Disney had earlier struck a multi-year partnership with Sky in the UK to broadcast its service on Sky Q and Now TV.

It is widely anticipated that with so many people confined to their homes because of the coronavirus crisis, audiences for in-home screened entertainment of all kinds is set to rocket.

But Amy Jackson, Business Director at Incubeta, told WARC that “Unlike some video and TV subscription services where consumers have to pay a premium for an ad-free experience, Disney+, as an ad-free platform, is potentially missing out on a plethora of new sign-ups by not launching earlier” – although there are various commercial reasons it may not have been able to do so.

It’s a competitive market, she noted, adding, “Disney+ has a brand and content library strong enough to entice subscribers”.

Research from GlobalWebIndex shows Brits already have a high level of awareness of the new Disney service – among 2,000 internet users in the UK, awareness of Disney Plus has risen by 23 percentage points to 58% over the past eight months, GlobalWebIndex says, with 12% admitting they had already pirated the flagship show, The Mandalorian, before its release in the UK.

Of those surveyed, 14% said they have either already signed up for a one-year subscription to the new service or will be subscribing on a monthly basis. The most awaited content is Pixar (49%) and Marvel (47%).

Competition between media streaming services is intensifying, GlobalWebIndex notes. In the UK, Sky in particular has made big advances in the market with 18% of consumers say they are now Sky Go customers.

Netflix is still the most popular service, with 62% saying they use it; Amazon Prime (45%) retains its place as the most popular alternative.

The mobile data and analytics platform App Annie offers an insight into the huge success of Disney Plus internationally.

While the service only launched in November last year, Disney Plus was the eighth most downloaded app in the US in 2019 for both Android and iOS. In December last year, Disney Plus was the 6th ranked app by consumer spend among all non-gaming apps globally. This was despite the fact the app was only available in certain countries at that time.

Sourced from Variety, GlobalWebIndex, App Annie; additional content by WARC staff