Partnerships are increasingly becoming the new way to do content in the telco world and Sky has landed what could be an attractive deal with Disney+.

Jamie Davies

March 3, 2020

3 Min Read
Sky grabs lucrative Disney+ partnership in UK

Partnerships are increasingly becoming the new way to do content in the telco world and Sky has landed what could be an attractive deal with Disney+.

With connectivity and content becoming increasingly entwined as the convergence business model becomes the norm, partnerships with the US streaming giants are very valuable assets. Sky has already inked a relationship with Netflix, even going as far as to embed the service in its content platform but adding Disney+ to the mix is another feather in the cap of the UK’s premium content leader.

“We’ve built a strong partnership with Disney over three decades and we’re pleased that our customers in the UK and Ireland can continue to enjoy their world-class content – all in one place on Sky Q,” said Jeremy Darroch, Group CEO at Sky.

“This is a great start to what is set to be another stellar year for Sky – in 2020 we’ll launch new channels and genres, start building Sky Studios Elstree and we’ve got brilliant new and returning originals coming too.”

If the mission is to have all the best content in a single window, Sky is looking like it is doing a very effective job. Sky already has some very attractive content, but with Netflix and Disney+ to bolster the offering, it seems few will be able to compete in a market which is becoming increasingly congested.

“Ultimately, the arrival of another service further fragments the market for consumers,” said Paolo Pescatore of PP Foresight. “There are too many video streaming services chasing too few dosh. It is becoming more important to be able to access all of these and future services on one TV platform. Here lies the killer feature, universal access!”

But while this is a win for Sky, Pescatore still thinks there is opportunity for a mobile player to cash in at some point.

“This partnership suggests an exclusive deal for a UK provider is still up for grabs. Highly likely that a mobile operator will secure this, mirroring Disney’s strategy in the US. Therefore, EE looks to be in prime position given its track record in securing key premium content partnerships. Disney brings the most sought-after breath of premium programming for all genres.”

Over in the US, Disney+ has proven to be an incredibly popular service. During the most recent earnings call for the Walt Disney Company, the team boasted of 26.5 million paid subscriptions, averaging $5.56 a month. These numbers were accurate to December 28, and considering the aggressive expansion plans, we expect these numbers to be considerably higher come the next earnings call in May.

What is always worth remembering is that these partnerships work both ways; Disney has as much, if not more, to gain.

For Sky, Disney adds depth to a content offering which is already market leading. It is a move to consolidate the position and add more stickiness to the service. It also allows Sky to add more value to connectivity offerings. It sounds like Sky is getting a lot, but then you have to consider what the opportunity is for Disney.

Disney has an excellent brand in the UK, though it will struggle to go head-to-head with the trusted proposition which is Netflix. Through this partnership, Disney leans on the existing customer relationships with Sky to gain a direct link, its existing billing relationship and exposure through an embedded tab on the platform. These elements, plus the marketing dollars which Sky will push towards the launch, will give Disney the best possible start in the UK.

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