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Streaming wars get serious as Disney pulls box sets from Sky

By Charlotte Ricca

Disney makes tactical move as it prepares for UK streaming debut

Disney has pulled more than half of its TV box sets from Sky. This is to ensure that its streaming service is a hit when it launches in the UK on March 31, 2020.

ABC, which is owned by Disney, had 99 shows on the Sky Now streaming service, including Greys Anatomy, Scandal and Marvel. This was cut to 45 between April and October, according to research by Ampere .

Sky currently dominates the streaming market, due to its deals with the "big six" Hollywood film and TV studios: Disney, Warner Bros, Paramount, 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures and Universal Studios.

However, this could all change, as more shows are likely to be removed from the channel over the next 18 months, when Disney’s deals with Sky come up for renewal.

Disney is a key partner for Sky, accounting for almost 30 per cent of the premium movies in the third quarter and almost a quarter of shows for families and children.

Disney clearly means business with its new launch and has invested billions in Disney+ content. In March Disney bought 21st Century Fox for $71bn (£60bn, €54bn).

However, Sky is expected to do all it can to maintain its profitable partnership with the studio.

“Sky can’t afford to lose so much content and they will be trying to retain access somehow given Disney also needs its crown jewels to make Disney+ work,” said Richard Broughton, an analyst at Ampere.

FURTHER READING: Disney+ hits 10m sign-ups on first day

FURTHER READING: Disney’s streaming service Disney+ launches in the Netherlands, US and Canada

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