Disney+ Europe launch on track despite coronavirus

Walt Disney Co. is pressing ahead with the March 24 launch of its new video streaming service, Disney+, in Europe, with some minor changes in light of the coronavirus.

The debut in France will be delayed until April 7 at the request of the French government, Disney said in a statement. The CEO of Orange SA, the Paris-based telecommunications giant, had called for it to avoid overloading its networks.

Disney also said it would take measures to reduce its bandwidth utilization by at least 25% in the markets in which it is launching.

“We will be monitoring Internet congestion and working closely with Internet service providers to further reduce bitrates as necessary to ensure they are not overwhelmed by consumer demand,” Kevin Mayer, the chairman of the company’s direct-to-consumer division, said in the statement.

Countries around the world are seeing a surge in Internet usage as residents, cocooned in their homes, go online to chat, read the news, shop or watch videos.

Disney last week delayed the launch of the service in India, in part due to the virus-related postponement of professional cricket.

The world’s largest entertainment company is particularly hard-hit by the virus, which has closed movie theatres and theme parks around the world and cancelled sporting events that are the mainstay of its ESPN channels.

Disney has delayed a number of movie debuts in theatres and pushed up the dates on which “Frozen 2” and the new Pixar film “Onward,” appear on the streaming service. That business costs $7 a month in the U.S.

The company last week filed papers to raise as much as $6 billion in borrowings, partly to refinance existing debt as interest rates decline.

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Disney+ Europe launch on track despite coronavirus