March 22, 2020 / 1:52 AM / 15 days ago

Disney+ launch delayed in France, bandwidth use cut for Europe amid coronavirus

FILE PHOTO: A man looks at his phone as he passes by a screen advertising Walt Disney's streaming service Disney+ in New York City, U.S., November 12, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

(Reuters) - The launch of Walt Disney’s (DIS.N) streaming services in France will be delayed by two weeks at the request of the French government, the company said in a statement on Saturday.

Disney+ is set to launch in the UK and most major European markets on March 24. However, according to the statement, European subscribers will receive temporarily degraded video quality.

Anticipating higher consumer demand, the company is instituting measures to “lower our overall bandwidth utilization by at least 25% in all of the markets launching Disney+ on March 24th,” said Kevin Mayer, head of Disney’s Direct-to-consumer and International business.

According to the statement, Disney had agreed to a European Union request for streaming-video providers to “ensure the smooth functioning of the broadband infrastructure.”

YouTube, owned by Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O), Amazon Inc’s (AMZN.O) Prime video and Netflix (NFLX.O) had previously said they will sacrifice streaming quality in the European Union to help avert online gridlock as tens of millions of people stay indoors and switch to working from home.

The request to the companies was made by European Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton to ensure the smooth functioning of the broadband infrastructure.

Reporting by Aishwarya Nair and Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Chris Reese

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