Disney+ poised to launch absent Amazon Fire support

Disney Plus
Disney and Amazon operate as frenemies. (FierceVideo)

For Amazon Fire TV users, it won’t be a small world after all: The Disney+ streaming service will launch without support for Amazon's media players or streaming sticks. 

The news came in a press release posted Monday that confirmed a Nov. 12 U.S. launch date for the Walt Disney Company’s $6.99/month over-the-top service. Subscribers will also be able to sign up for a year at $69.99 or pay $12.99 for a bundle of Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu.

Disney’s service—which will feature a large world of media properties ranging from Disney to Marvel to National Geographic to Pixar to Star Wars—will ship apps for almost every other streaming-media platform except Amazon.

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The list includes Apple’s iOS and tvOS, Google’s Android and Android TV, Roku’s players and sticks as well as Roku TVs, Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s PlayStation 4.

Disney spokeswoman Jessica Casano said in an email that the service will also allow sign-up and viewing in web browsers and include AirPlay output; that last detail, unmentioned in the release, will make Disney+ easily viewable on a growing variety of connected TVs.

Such carriage deals as one reportedly being discussed with Charter might later put Disney+ on some cable-box home screens.

Omitting Fire TV, however, will leave a large population of potential viewers having to buy new hardware or content themselves with smaller-screen viewing. 

At the Pay TV Show in May, Amazon’s head of Fire TV sales, marketing and engagement Jennifer Prenner said that platform had exceeded 34 million active users, above Roku’s 29 million users.

RELATED: Amazon Fire TV now claims more than 34M active users

contemporary survey by The Diffusion Group showed a more even market split in the U.S., with 21% using a Roku and 23% a Fire TV device.

Michael Greeson, TDG’s president and director of research, predicted an eventual meeting of the media minds. “Disney and Amazon are frenemies, working together when it makes sense and butting heads when it doesn’t,” he wrote in an email. 

He forecast that the two firms would wind up negotiating a smaller-than-usual cut for Amazon of Disney+ subscription revenue, whether the app is downloaded from Amazon’s Appstore, or the signup happens via Amazon’s Prime Channels.

“Think of it like a retrans dispute between a network and an MVPD,” Greeson predicted. “It may take a while and involve lots of barbs being exchanged, but eventually it will get worked out.”

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