Some glitches in the UK as Disney+ launches in Europe

BERLIN (Reuters) - Some viewers in Britain complained they were struggling to sign up for Disney+ as the video streaming service launched on Tuesday in Europe, where networks have come under huge strain due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A martphone with displayed "Disney" logo is seen in front of displayed "Streaming service" words in this illustration taken March 24, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Tens of millions of schoolchildren and adults have been confined to their homes by lockdowns imposed to curb the spread of the flu-like illness, and many are spending more time on the sofa collectively binge-watching as a result.

Disney+ launched in Britain, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria and Switzerland with reduced picture quality to ease data volumes flowing through networks. It delayed its start in France by two weeks at the government’s request.

It tempted subscribers with 500 films, 350 serials and 25 original productions including Star Wars spin-off ‘The Mandalorian’ and Mouse House cartoon classics including the 1955 original of ‘Lady and the Tramp’.

According to website Downdetector, viewers faced most problems in the United Kingdom, where some complained they were receiving the PIN codes they need to register only after they had expired.

“Cannot log in ... says my email is not registered despite having paid for a years subscription ... Great start Disney-,” complained one person with the handle J4K5.

Disney didn’t respond to a request for comment on whether people trying to sign up were facing difficulties due to overloaded networks.

It also declined to say how many people had signed up ahead of an update when it reports its next quarterly results. Disney+ had 28.6 million users at the last count.

Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime and Facebook are, like Disney+, temporarily throttling bitrates by 25% to help carriers manage data flows without discriminating between different types of traffic.

Such a move would violate European Union rules on so-called net neutrality which require network operators to treat all kinds or internet traffic equally.

Big European telecoms companies are marketing Disney+ as part of bundled deals, with Germany’s Deutsche Telekom offering a freebie to subscribers of its Magenta TV entertainment product.

“It’s being very well received,” Deutsche Telekom said. “Our networks are stable and there are no restrictions related to the increased volumes that we are seeing in connection with coronavirus.”

Telefonica is a channel partner for Disney+ in Spain, as is its O2 subsidiary in the UK. Telecom Italia (TIM) is promoting it in Italy and Orange will make it available in France on April 7.

Reporting by Nadine Schimroszik and Keith Weir; Writing by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Mark Potter