Disney+ has no plans to enter the live sports arena in Europe any time soon, according to the Mouse House’s top European executive, meaning that the streaming giant will not be competing for Premier League rights in the UK.
Speaking at a Disney+ press event to mark the launch of international service Star on Wednesday, Disney’s EMEA president Jan Koeppen said that sport is not a priority for Disney+ across the territories he oversees, unlike in India, for example, where live cricket is helping the streamer make its mark with local audiences.
“We have currently no plans to have live sporting events on Disney+. As you can imagine, with all the amazing content that we’ve just announced in December, and now with the launch of Star, we have enough to keep us busy, at least in the short term, here in Europe,” Koeppen said.
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The remark comes as the auction for Premier League rights is underway in the UK. Currently, live rights are shared between Sky, BT Sport, and Amazon, but there are reports that other streamers, such as DAZN, could take an interest in securing a bundle of games.
Disney is of course no stranger to broadcasting the Premier League in the UK after ESPN held the rights for the soccer competition last decade. ESPN ultimately closed its operations in the UK in 2013 after losing out to BT Sport in the race for Premier League rights in 2012.
For now, Disney+ is focused on launching Star successfully on February 23. The general entertainment brand, aimed at a more adult audience, will go live (with parental controls) as a tile within Disney+ and is designed to level-up the service in the increasingly fierce streaming wars.
Deadline had the scoop on Star’s first eight European originals on Tuesday, while further projects from UK producers are expected to be announced in the coming weeks. These originals will complement 300 movies and 75 TV titles, including Lost, 24, Grey’s Anatomy, The Favourite, and Braveheart.
Upcoming series from Disney’s general entertainment studios will also feature, with Big Sky, Love Victor, and Solar Opposites being made available on Star. Other shows, such as FX spinoff American Horror Stories, are in the pipeline.
Luke Bradley-Jones, SVP of direct-to-consumer and general manager for Disney+ EMEA, said it will become the “exclusive streaming home” for Disney’s iconic catalog, meaning that licensing deals will eventually flip over to the streamer as it seeks to grow its 95 million subscriber base.
Bradley-Jones also confirmed that every single episode of classic comedy The Golden Girls will come to Disney+ later this year. The show is currently available on Hulu in the U.S. “I’ve been working hard on that. Coming this summer, you will have every season of The Golden Girls, every ever episode,” he said.
Disney+ will increase in price in the UK from £5.99 to £7.99 next week.
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