Disney Plus: Migrate all countries to global Disney+ platform

Disney Plus: Migrate all countries to global Disney+ platform

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Julian Iles started this petition to The Walt Disney Company and

Disney+ debuted officially on 12 November 2019 after a two-month pre-release trial phase in the Netherlands. Alongside the Netherlands, Canada and the US were the first countries to access the streaming service, followed by Australia, New Zealand, and Puerto Rico the week after. Some four months later, throughout late March and early April of 2020, Disney+ also launched in some European countries. Until this point, all markets had access to the same streaming platform, which will hereafter be referred to as the "legacy" platform, that provided consistency to the user experience worldwide.

In April 2020, Disney+ launched in its first Asian territory, India, but this time, using the Hotstar platform. Users were very quick to complain about this on online forums such as Reddit, where many complained of lower audio and video bitrates and, despite a somewhat larger content library upon launch, users overall deemed this to be an "inferior" service.

The global rollout continued with preparations being made to launch in Japan in June 2020, other European territories in September 2020, and Latin America in Novermber 2020. These territories also received the legacy Disney+ platform, while Disney+ launched with the inferior Hotstar platform in Indonesia in September 2020.

The global rollout continued in 2021, with the legacy platform launching in larger Asian markets (Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong), while the inferior Hotstar platform launched in Malaysia and Thailand.

After a 6-month hiatus, the Disney+ rollout continued, beginning with South Africa in May 2022, and the Middle East and North Africa in June 2022. All of these territories were served with the inferior Hotstar platform, along with the upcoming launch in the Philippines and Vietnam. Meanwhile, Eastern Europe, also launching in June 2022, has been served with the legacy Disney+ platform.

The recent rollout in the Middle East and North Africa has been harshly criticised by subscribers in online discussion threads such as here and here and here, among others. Some affected countries, such as the United Arab Emirates, have large expat populations who are unable to use their existing subscription, as discussed here.

There have been speculations as to why certain territories have launched with the Hotstar platform, while others with the legacy Disney+ platform. Perhaps the most plausible theory is related to operational costs, with many users positing that the infrastructure required to launch and operate the legacy Disney+ platform being far more expensive than the inferior Hotstar platform.

Many users have astutely commented that Netflix successfully launched in almost every country in the world using exactly the same platform, through which they have successfully delivered localised content and libraries for several years. If Netflix can do that all on one platform, why can't Disney?

We find that there are several issues tied to the Hotstar platform, including but not limited to:

1) Lower video and audio bitrates, which significantly detract from the viewing experience, especially for users using a TV to stream from Disney+ Hotstar;

2) The Hotstar platform offers no accessibility for visually impaired persons;

3) The Hotstar platform relies on OTP (one-time password) authentication, whereby a subscriber must have an active mobile phone service tied to their subscription;

4) Despite providing the correct mobile phone number, users have complained of long delays in receiving their OTP or of not receiving their OTP at all in some instances;

5) People without a mobile phone service cannot subscribe to Disney+ Hotstar;

6) Subscribers whose mobile phone numbers are no longer in service or are changed suddenly risk becoming "locked out" of their account and unable to use their subscription;

7) There is no ability for PC users to access their Disney+ subscription;

8) Subscribers who travel between a Hotstar territory and a legacy Disney+ territory are unable to use their existing subscription and must either forgo their streaming privileges or make a duplicate subscription;

9) There are many immigrant families from Asia, North Africa, and the Middle East living in Europe, the Americas, and Australia and New Zealand, who would benefit from having Disney content made available in their native language, so that they can promote the language to their children; and

10) Subscribers in Hotstar territories are receiving a service disproportionate to their relative expenditure (while subscription rates in Hotstar territories are comparatively lower to those in legacy Disney+ territories, the same is true for those subscriber's wages).

Furthermore, maintaining two separate streaming platforms must be more cumbersome and costly than just one.

As a multinational conglomerate recording annual profits in the billions, it's only fair that money is invested in providing a consistent and superior viewing experience to all loyal subscribers of Disney+, no matter where they live. We urge you to migrate all territories to the legacy Disney+ platform and discard the inferior Hotstar platform altogether without increasing the subscription cost to your subscribers.

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