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Liberty Global's Virgin Media in talks to add Disney+ to pay TV service

Liberty Global PLC's Virgin Media is in talks with The Walt Disney Co. to add its Disney+ streaming service to its platform in the United Kingdom and Ireland, a spokesperson for the pay TV company told S&P Global Market Intelligence.

The news comes as Comcast Corp. unit Sky Ltd this week announced a multiyear distribution deal with Disney+. The Sky agreement is not exclusive and Disney plans to announce further partnerships ahead of the streaming service's March 24 launch in several Western European countries, a Disney spokesperson said.

"We have a long-standing relationship with Disney and are in talks about Disney+," the Virgin Media spokesperson said. The discussions include first pay TV window rights to 20th Century movies such as "Le Mans '66" — titled "Ford v Ferrari" in the U.S. — and "Terminator: Dark Fate," the spokesperson added. These were also included in the deal with Sky.

Sky rival British Telecom said it currently has nothing to announce regarding Disney+.

Disney recently appointed Liam Keelan as vice president of original productions, television for Europe & Africa. This was partly done in anticipation of the European Union imposing a 30% quota for local productions, the spokesperson said.

Disney+ includes animated and live-action Disney movies, along with shows and films from Pixar, Star Wars and Marvel, including original content. The service can be purchased directly from Disney for £5.99 per month, or £59.99 per year, in the U.K., when it launches March 24.

The company struck exclusive distribution agreements with Canal + in France and Telecom Italia SpA in Italy, with more partnerships in the pipeline for additional countries, the Disney spokesperson said. Disney also secured a deal with Verizon Communications Inc. in the U.S. to offer select customers a year's worth of Disney+ access for free.

Agreements between streamers and telecoms and pay TV operators are now commonplace. Streaming services view them as a way to increase subscriber numbers due to the scale cable offers, while pay TV is looking to combat cord cutting by offering popular entertainment apps.

Netflix, for example, is available to subscribers on Sky, Virgin and BT in the U.K. Amazon Prime Video is available on Virgin and BT.

Disney+ had 28.6 million subscribers as of February and is targeting 60 million to 90 million global subscribers by 2024.