Why Is It Taking Disney+ So Long To Arrive In Europe?

Some found it perplexing that Disney decided to launch first in The Netherlands during the early fall to test the waters of European public reaction. For many, that seemed strange from a business perspective when the U.S. has been chomping at the bit for the service to release.

The real reason for the debut in The Netherlands was because they have superior internet infrastructure, plus it is a densely populated country. Disney figured it would be a good beta testing ground in advance for American audiences.

No doubt the rest of Europe thought they’d be getting Disney+ not long after. Reports say the platform won’t be in the rest of Europe immediately due to some complicated European Union rules. Also, Disney+ across the pond may look slightly different from the U.S. library as a result.

Disney has to include 30% European Union sanctioned content

The Disney+ (Plus) logo is seen displayed on a smartphone.
Disney+ | Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Europe still has a lot of national pride in the content they offer to the masses in their respective countries. Some of it sometimes exceeds American content in terms of quality, particularly in U.K., a country the U.S. still pillages from.

Because of the new streaming universe, Europe has had to look at what that means in terms of providing the same type of national content they produce. Should they have capitulated to the newest avalanche of streaming services this month alone, they would have been watching 98% American-produced content.

Apple TV+ is mostly American-produced shows, and Disney+ will be as about as American as it gets. Recent European Union rules say 30 percent of any streaming content there has to be produced or acquired in Europe.

Disney+ now has to wait to debut in Europe to figure out how they’ll capitulate to these rules. There’s every indication they’ll have to produce some content there, which would make Disney+ differ from what American audiences see when traveling overseas.

Will Disney produce new content overseas, or just acquire it?

Disney may just pay out surcharges to acquire content being produced in Europe that fits the studio bill. These surcharges can become quite expensive, though, which might make the Mouse House balk a little more.

Netflix has been fighting the same thing in Europe, including going to court in Germany to override the charges. They ultimately lost and had to capitulate to the EU rules after all.

With Disney already being one of the wealthiest corporations in the world, some might wonder why they’d choose to fight these surcharges when the benefits may outweigh the financial inconveniences. Most likely, they won’t fight them in court and just find some creative ways to work around the issue.

Millions of more subscribers are at stake here, giving the potential for Disney+ to become a global leader in entertainment streaming. What can Disney acquire there, though? Should they produce new content, and would American audiences have a chance to see it?

One thing seen with Netflix is some internationally-produced shows sometimes catch on through the American version of the platform.

What do the European people want from Disney+?

At this point, it would be interesting to see polling data on what the European populace would prefer to see on Disney+ next year. Since the service won’t debut in most parts of Europe until next year — Western Europe reportedly next March — would the people there prefer seeing all American content, or do they really want locally-produced movies/shows?

When it comes to the classic Disney catalog, it’s always been universally acclaimed. Based on this, it seems most Europeans would want the majority of what Disney+ is offering here. No doubt this includes the original Marvel and Star Wars content.

If Disney creates new shows in Europe to fill the 30 percent quota, those shows might not be nearly as popular. Then again, it could spark a runaway hit that Disney+ will place on the American platform someday. Coming from Europe, it might be more human-oriented programming than anything from Marvel or the Star Wars realms.