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Disney Plus comes to EMEA

As Disney Plus rolls out across many EMEA countries, OWNZONES’ Bill Admans discusses its successes, challenges and predictions

Anything that Disney does tends to move the needle in the marketplace, but few could have predicted quite how successful the launch of its Disney Plus SVoD service would be in the first quarter of its existence. The most positive analyst expectations had expected the new service to reach 20 million subscribers by the end of 2020. In its first three months alone, and in the early stages of what will eventually be a global rollout, it signed up 28.6 million subscribers. 

It comes to a large part of EMEA today with further roll-outs in the summer, and there is every chance it will be equally as successful. Many of our customers are excited about the launch of Disney Plus and the expanded market opportunity it offers for content owners. 

We are already using the power of OWNZONES Connect to efficiently encode, package and deliver content to Disney Plus. Connect is designed to operate natively in the Cloud to automate collaborative global workflow processes. Our proprietary parallel-scaling technology, made possible by the Cloud, enables efficient and high-quality production workflows.

It’s a significant point as Disney Plus rolls out in EMEA as well. The EMEA territory covers a huge area and contains a rich diversity of nations and languages within it. The OTT experience to date has highlighted how important effective localisation is to the market. By leveraging the Cloud in concert with IMF, the Interoperable Mastering Format, only the differences between the versions are stored over and above the original content. It’s similar to the way that video codecs work by only noticing the changes from one frame to another and saves a lot of space when supporting localised content, either dubbed or subtitled, in the multiple languages and dialects that EMEA demands.

Connect is fully provisioned to manage workflows for over 100 platforms, including Disney Plus, which means every step can be handled within our platform from ingest to delivery. With the launch of new OTT platforms comes new opportunities for content owners to monetise their libraries. FrameDNA and Deep Analysis, AI-driven tools within Connect, rapidly analyse thousands of files in a library to identify all of the individual components within each title. 

This data can be used to automate the creation and formatting of new versions matching an OTT platform’s specifications, as well as consolidate versions and reduce storage footprint by up to 73 per cent. An Adobe Premiere panel enables editors to easily access and exchange media with Connect to make custom changes and incorporate new elements. Our extensive API architecture allows studios and facilities to integrate Connect into their media asset management and business process orchestration systems to fully automate their content packaging and delivery workflows. 

One of the big factors in the success of Disney Plus — and Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu…any of the major SVoD services you care to name — is this sort of efficiency. It’s all about lowering the costs and exploiting the marginal gains you find along the way; about building the most efficient platform for content owners to be able to encode, package and deliver media, and provide tools that bring together workflows which once needed separate steps and are now all available in one suite of tools. 

Connect is highly scalable because it operates in the Cloud. And it is the Cloud that has been instrumental in making all this happen for Disney and others, enabling them to spin up servers quickly and efficiently rather than relying on the massive installations of infrastructure. We can connect directly to a customer’s AWS S3 storage environment which minimises cost and ensures absolute security. Alternatively, we can provide a secure environment for customers using OWNZONES’ AWS storage instances.  

Using the Cloud is much more friendly to the bottom line because it negates the need for facilities and service providers to commit to expensive capex investments to serve new clients and workflows. Instead, OWNZONES can be utilised as operating expenditure on a per-job basis, allowing our customers to more easily charge and recover the cost of media management against individual projects. 

And potentially, there are a lot of projects. One of the lessons from Disney Plus’ launch is that depth of catalogue is important. Baby Yoda and The Mandalorian might be instrumental in the initial push, but it’s the sheer number of titles that Disney is able to bring to the table — not to mention the years of brand building it has undertaken with the acquisition of the likes of Marvel and Pixar — that helps mitigate against churn once the initial period is over. Cloud-based technologies are instrumental here, allowing the processing of hundreds of titles at a time and enabling the content owners that need to feed the increasingly voracious demand for their titles to quickly scale and provide content at a low cost.

We are excited about the opportunity that the European launch of Disney Plus and other new OTT services offer for content owners and service providers, and we look forward to partnering with our customers as they deliver more and more content to new platforms, Disney Plus and otherwise.