Disney Plus Launch: How to Watch with a VPN

Girl watching laptop on bed

This week, Disney Plus launched in the US, Canada and The Netherlands. Next week, fans in Australia and New Zealand will also be able to access the impressive Disney-related library. Unfortunately, things are not so magical if you live or travel outside these countries: you won’t easily get access there. Some users of VPN services face the same issues, regardless of where they live.

What is Disney Plus?

Disney Plus is the new, much-anticipated streaming service owned by Disney. Just like Netflix, Apple TV+ and Amazon Prime, it is a video-on-demand-service with an elaborate library of shows, series and movies that you can view at any time, from almost any device. Besides typical Disney movies and shows, the streaming service also features new releases from Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic.

According to Disney CEO Bob Iger, almost every single movie in the Disney catalog will eventually be available on Disney Plus. This will include all of the animated films previously locked away in the “Disney vault”. Some may come in an edited version or with a warning, when the “content is believed to contain outdated cultural depictions”. Examples are Song of the South, which Disney buried in the ’80s, and a racist scene in the original version of Dumbo. With this archival content, Disney Plus is likely to also draw in subscribers beyond Disney, Star Wars and superhero fans, adding to the core group of family users who love all things Disney and will likely come and stay.

The stand-alone service of Disney Plus is ad-free and can stream in 4K Ultra HD. One account can have up to 7 profiles and will allow streaming on 4 devices simultaneously. You can watch content on your computer, but also on iOS, AppleTV, Android, Google Chromecast, Roku, Sony PlayStation 4, Microsoft Xbox One and soon Amazon Fire TV.

Countries Where Disney Plus is and isn’t Available

On November 12, fans in the US, Canada and the Netherlands were the first to be able to subscribe to Disney Plus. A second launch date is planned for November 19, which will see Australia and New Zealand added to the mix. The UK and Western Europe are expected to follow by March 2020, Latin America by August 2020, and Asia Pacific and Eastern Europe by September 2021. Asian countries such as India, Indonesia and Thailand are currently not on the list.

Licensing agreements and other roadblocks mean Disney will not yet be able to offer the exact same library in every country. Reacquiring the international distribution right for all of its content will be a long process, but an important step to enable a global launch.

The way Disney determines which user is allowed to watch certain content and who isn’t, is based on those users’ IP addresses. This is how streaming services often block users located outside available regions. Some users have found a way around this by using a VPN service. With a VPN service, they’re able to change their IP address to an IP address in another country. This way the website they try to connect to —in this case Disney Plus — will think they are in the specific country and will allow them to sign up and use their subscription as if they were indeed there.

Watching Disney Plus with a VPN

Many people use a VPN to secure their internet connection. It allows them to surf the internet anonymously and safely. Aside from that, a VPN has many more advantages. However, more and more streaming services are trying to block VPN users. Disney Plus is one of those services. This means that, even if you do live in a country where you should be able to access Disney Plus right now, you won’t be able to watch content while your VPN is on. This issue makes it a lot harder for many to use Disney Plus.

If you want to know how you can watch Disney Plus safely with a VPN regardless, you can check out this article. You can also compare VPN providers and learn more about how to set-up a VPN on this website.

10 Million Subscribers and Counting

This week, Disney confirmed that it already surpassed 10 million sign-ups. This includes both paying and non-paying subscribers, since Disney is offering a free seven-day trial.

Users did experience a few glitches, which Disney has attributed to the overwhelming demand the platform generated during its first week of service. Of course, some teething problems aren’t unexpected and are unlikely to be a long-term issue.

Morgan Stanley analyst, Benjamin Swinburne, recently increased its forecast, predicting Disney’s streaming service will hit 130 million subscribers by 2024, including Hulu, Disney Plus and ESPN Plus. In comparison, in the third quarter of 2019, Netflix counted over 158 million paying streaming subscribers worldwide, as well as 5.5 million free trial customers.

Cybersecurity analyst
David is a cybersecurity analyst and one of the founders of VPNoverview.com. Since 2014 he has been gaining international experience working with governments, NGOs, and the private sector as a cybersecurity and VPN expert and advisor.