While Disney+ is now available in more than 50 countries around the world, there is still no indication of when the streaming service will be coming to South Africa.
Since its initial launch in November 2019, Africa has not been named in Disney’s regional rollout plans at all.
No comments have been forthcoming from the Walt Disney Company’s international or regional divisions regarding the rollout of Disney+ in Africa either.
Only a limited number of North African countries and certain African island nations currently have the service available through various third party distributors in these regions.
One of the possible reasons for the delay in reaching South Africa could be the broadcasting rights that distributors in the region may currently have with Disney.
While the nature of these agreements is confidential, it is possible that South African pay-TV broadcaster MultiChoice currently has the rights to broadcast Disney content.
It’s possible that Disney is waiting for such an agreement to expire before rolling out to South Africa and other Sub-Saharan countries, where MultiChoice has a prominent presence.
Unfortunately, however, the company said there is “no news to share regarding Disney+’s release in South Africa and the continent at this stage”.
Where you can get Disney+
Disney+ is not only currently available in obvious major markets such as the US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Australia, and Japan, but also in a few odd locations in Africa such as Chad, Somalia, and Mauritius.
The latter is due to a deal that Disney has in place with French pay TV provider Canal+ where customers can buy the Disney+ service on top of its satellite offering in the country.
The island nation’s entire population sits at just over 1.26 million.
To put this into perspective, this is around 400,000 fewer than the number of DStv Premium and Compact subscribers in South Africa, and barely more than the combined estimated number of Netflix and Showmax subscribers.
MyBroadband asked MultiChoice Executive for Corporate Affairs Collen Dlamini whether the broadcaster was looking into arranging a similar deal with Disney as Canal+.
The company said it was frequently in discussions with channel suppliers, but that until an agreement was final, the talks were sensitive.
“For this reason, we will only make the necessary announcement when we are ready,” Dlamini said.
The map below shows the countries where Disney+ is available.
- Blue – Countries where the service has been launched.
- Yellow – Countries where Disney+ is available through a third-party distributor.
- Red – Countries that have been confirmed for launch in 2021.
Most popular movies and shows
There are several highly popular shows currently available on Disney+ which many South Africans cannot watch.
Several of the best-rated titles include the following:
- The Mandalorian – 8.4/10
- WandaVision – 8.2/10
- The World According to Jeff Goldblum – 7.8/10
- High School Musical: The Musical: The Series – 7.4/10
- Rogue Trip – 7.1/10
- The Right Stuff – 6.7/10
- Marvel’s 616 – 6.4/10
Upcoming movies and shows
More impressive than its current line-up, however, is the huge slate of upcoming movies and TV shows headed for Disney+.
This includes various Star Wars and Marvel spin-offs, as well as a wide variety of National Geographic documentaries, animated programming, and more.
Among these are the following shows:
- The Falcon and The Winter Soldier – 19 March 2021
- Big Shot – 16 April 2021
- Loki – 11 June 2021
- The Mysterious Benedict Society – 25 June 2021
- The Book of Boba Fett – TBA
- Hawkeye – TBA
- Ms Marvel – TBA
- Andor – TBA
- Moon Knight – TBA
- Willow – TBA
- The Acolyte – TBA
- Ahsoka – TBA
- Armor Wars – TBA
- Ironheart – TBA
- Lando – TBA
- Obi-Wan Kenobi – TBA
- Rangers of the New Republic – TBA
- Secret Invasion – TBA
- Just Beyond – TBA
- She-Hulk – TBA
- The Little Town – TBA
Piracy becoming a problem
Despite the lack of Disney+ in South Africa, official merchandise and toys from its exclusive shows like The Mandalorian are everywhere to be found in South African stores – both physical and online.
As recently pointed out by broadcasting journalist Thinus Ferreira, even PnP Clothing is getting in on the action, with a Baby Yoda/Grogu branded t-shirt selling for R99.
This begs the question – how is the demand for these items being created when South African cannot even watch The Mandalorian through any straightforward means?
There is a workaround to get access to the Disney+ service in South Africa, but this involves an elaborate set of steps that may be too complex for general streaming users.
It is likely that many South Africans have had to turn to illegally downloading The Mandalorian to watch the show, and may have had a hand in it becoming the most pirated TV show of 2020.