The Mandalorian: Disney+’s U.K. And Europe Release Strategy MAKES NO SENSE

Disney+ has been going for some time now across the majority of the world, offering shows like The Mandalorian to audiences. However, in the U.K. and some of Europe’s biggest nations, the service won’t begin until March 24th. Disney has been reluctant to fully reveal the rationale behind this late start, though we can make a few guesses. I cannot speak for the likes of Germany or France as I don’t know much, but I can discuss the U.K. more. I think the UK delays are mostly down to Sky TV. At one point in the past Sky TV was almost owned by Disney, as a part of the Fox brand. However, in order to ensure the deal to merge Fox into Disney was allowed, Disney let Sky TV go to Comcast instead.

Sky has been hammering home their Disney exclusive content recently. Sky has, for some time, had movie channels dedicated to Star Wars, Marvel and other Disney content. It, therefore, seems apparent that the licensing deals Sky has already paid for were being allowed to run out. This might explain why Disney has been upfront that Europe’s version of Disney+ will not match that Stateside. Some content will not appear in Europe that does in the U.S., and vice versa, to a lesser extent.

No Simpsons in the U.K.?

The U.K. doesn’t even look quite set to get the back catalog of The Simpsons in its entirety. Fans have noticed that Disney + advertising in the U.K. has lacked any imagery for The Simpsons. However, the same marketing in Germany and France has shown The Simpsons prominently. Again, this is suspected to be due to Sky’s dominance with The Simpsons‘ brand in the U.K. When, or to what extent Disney+ will pick up The Simpsons as time goes on, is unknown.

However, at a starting price of £5.99 per month, or £52 for a year, Disney+ is still expected to get subscribers. One of the features attracting potential subscribers to Disney+ is their exclusive content. For now, the only AAA exclusive on Disney+ is The Mandalorian (in my opinion anyway). However, Disney’s strategy for marketing and broadcasting this series is remarkably short-sighted.

What’s up with The Mandalorian?

Here is the thing, Disney has announced that they will begin streaming episodes of The Mandalorian weekly. This of course  is just like they did back in November for the rest of the world. The reason I find this silly and irritating is because of fans watching Disney+ illegally. The vast majority of fans who were excited by The Mandalorian have already watched Season 1 of the show.

My friend groups are not going to be excited to watch this show every week. Out of all my friends, I believe only two have currently not already watched The Mandalorian. One isn’t really a Star Wars fan, and one is around two years behind everyone else in terms of content consumption. That’s from a pool of around 20 people, and those I meet casually say the same.

Is Disney deluded enough to not realize that the main demographics’ for El Mando have already all seen it? There are so many options available. For a start, in the U.K., one can buy a chipped set-top box that gets you access to every channel. Lo and behold, Disney+ has been on it since launch. Then, you have the more old fashioned method of torrenting, which is relatively easy for anyone to pull off with a laptop or desktop PC at home. Add streaming sites into this mix as well as the option I chose, (which was to sign up to Disney+ through a VPN saying I live in The Netherlands) and you can see the picture.

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I totally understand why Disney wants to focus on weekly releases of their content. Actually, I prefer Netflix’s method, but I get it. I cannot fathom why they feel it is a good idea to only release one episode of The Mandalorian per week. Not to countries where they must know illegal viewing has spiked? Sure, there will be some fans who waited to get access to this show officially, but they are not going to be in their thousands and have water cooler moments in work about it. These conversations were happening back in 2019 at the same time as the US.

I see this move as a negative rather than a positive. It would be cool for me to log in on day one and watch The Mandalorian in 4K. This is something I cannot do with my Netherlands access after all. But I have no real interest in watching one episode of a show per week that I have already seen. It’s just such a strange decision, that makes no real sense.

There’s only one reason I can come up with for Disney’s weekly approach to The Mandalorian. Do Disney not want their subscribers to get used to binge watching at the start of the service? That’s not how shows will be transmitted in future, so maybe Disney doesn’t want to educate users in the wrong way? It’s a flimsy reason, I grant you.

The only other thing I can think of, is that they don’t know everyone has seen it already? Now, the only way they cannot know that is if they have buried their heads in the sand. The day Disney announced the UK delay, I remember thousands of social media responses. All those from UK or Europe were declaring how this was a mistake and that fans would watch it illegally. Well, they did what they said they would do, and you can’t put the genie back in the bottle.

What should Disney do?

This one is simple. For anything that has not released in the U.S. yet, release in the U.K. and Europe at the same time. For anything that has already released in U.S., just have it available from day one. I obviously exclude content that Disney cannot show yet for legal reasons, but that is certainly not El Mando.

We are going to have a similar situation with The Clone Wars final season as well. It has not come out yet how Disney + will show this show across the pond. However, Disney+ doesn’t begin till March 24th, several episodes will release in the US already by then? Again, for me, Disney should release the service with the same episodes that the U.S. already has. After that, then start the weekly releases in conjunction with when they arrive in the U.S.

As for the content that is going to be missing, especially from the U.K. version, let’s wait and see. I am sure that in time, this content will all arrive on the other versions of Disney+, hopefully.

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Disney should also remember that both Netflix and Amazon have in the U.K. far more content than the likes of the U.S. That’s simply because the U.K. has less competition. Many U.S.-based providers have not yet gone international. A good example of this is Star Trek: Picard, which is showing currently on Amazon in the U.K. Star Trek: Discovery however, shows on Netflix in the U.K. instead. It really is a different environment in Europe. Both the aforementioned  streaming giants are going to be harder to give up for audiences in the U.K. as a result.

All I am saying is that having to wait for one episode of The Mandalorian per week isn’t much of a selling point. Not like it was in the US and elsewhere back when the show was brand new and exciting.

Should Disney reconsider this approach, would you be happy to get The Mandalorian once per week at this point? Share your thoughts in the usual possible places below as always.

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