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Disney to launch streaming service, DisneyLife...in Britain

Disney to launch streaming service, DisneyLife...in Britain
Walt Disney Co. will introduce a stand-alone subscription streaming service in Britain next month that will offer access to Pixar and Disney movies and characters such as Elsa from "Frozen," above. (Disney)

Walt Disney Co. is dipping its toe into the streaming service market.

Next month it will launch DisneyLife in Britain. The stand-alone subscription service will have ready access to Disney and Pixar movies, as well as episodes of Disney Channel programs, Disney books and music.

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Disney is pricing the service at about $15 a month. DisneyLife will be offered more widely in Europe next year.

The Burbank entertainment behemoth has no plans to offer a stand-alone subscription service in the U.S., where the company has constructed a web of lucrative contracts with pay-TV operators. Those carriage contracts for Disney television channels bring in more than $10 billion a year in revenue.

But, analysts say, such a move could eventually happen.

"The European over-the-top offering does provide the company with the platform, the know-how, and the data insights necessary to do so," Nomura Securities media analyst Anthony DiClemente wrote in a report late Wednesday.

"This operational ability would serve as a longer-term hedge; Disney could quickly change its domestic distribution model should the TV ecosystem, as we know it today, become less economically attractive," DiClemente said.

HBO and CBS Corp. have shifted strategies this year, and each has offered subscription streaming services directly to consumers.

Disney is well positioned to make the pivot. It is one of the few media conglomerates that has several beloved brands that consumers widely embrace. ESPN, for example, is recognized as a leader in sports entertainment, while Disney is a preeminent brand for family entertainment.

Other media companies, in contrast, are better known for individual channels. Viacom is known for Nickelodeon, MTV and Comedy Central. Time Warner Inc. is known for CNN, TBS, HBO and the Warner Bros. movie and TV studio.

Disney wanted to roll out the subscription service in Britain before the holidays. The programming will be available in five languages: English, French, Spanish, Italian and German.

Subscribers will be able to personalize their experience with individual profiles using Disney characters such as Mickey Mouse, Snow White, Elsa from "Frozen" and Woody from "Toy Story."

The service will have control settings so that parents can establish time limits for their children's use.

"DisneyLife is a great example of our strategy to utilize technology to connect with consumers in more direct and compelling ways, something that only Disney can do," Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger said in a statement announcing the initiative.

Twitter: @MegJamesLAT

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