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Disney+ streaming service sets November launch

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Disney announced Thursday that its video streaming service would launch in the US in November, spotlighting its blockbuster-making studios as it takes on powerhouse Netflix.

The company said that after launching in the US on November 12 at $6.99 per month, Disney+ will gradually expand internationally, starting in Europe.

Disney is among some of the biggest names in the media and tech world gearing up to move into streaming, in what could be a major challenge to market leader Netflix.

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Disney plans to make the streaming service available in all major regions of the world within two years.

The service will offer Disney’s films and TV shows, along with the library it acquired from Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox. That includes the “Star Wars” and Marvel superhero franchises and ABC television content.

Last month Walt Disney Co. closed its $71 billion deal for the film and television assets of 21st Century Fox as the “legacy” producers controlling Hollywood seek to fend off Netflix and other streaming firms including Amazon.

Details about Disney+ were shared by executives at an annual investor day, where chief executive Bob Iger said the streaming service would combine the strengths of Disney and the assets acquired from Fox.

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“The Disney+ platform is being built on that foundation, one that no other content or technology company can rival,” Iger said.

“We knew the best approach to the market was to create great content and distribute it in innovative ways. It is that simple.”

Disney+ will combine offerings from powerhouse brands including Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars with content from Hulu and sports network ESPN.

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Disney stressed plans to use its coveted content, and original creations to come, to differentiate itself in the increasingly competitive streaming television market.

The entertainment colossus was arranging to get Disney+ on a broad array of smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles, set-top boxes and smart televisions, according to executives.

– Big spending on shows –

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Disney will invest heavily in the new streaming service, which is not expected to become profitable until 2024, chief financial officer Christine McCarthy told investors.

The company projected that it would have from 60 million to 90 million subscribers by that time, with two-thirds of them outside the United States.

“We will be aggressive in our efforts, and we believe we will succeed,” McCarthy said.

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But John Meyer, an analyst and Transpire Ventures partner said he strongly believes Disney will not become a threat to Netflix.

“Netflix now knows what people want more than anybody,” he said.

Disney+ will launch “with a robust library of theatrical and television content” and will release more than 25 original series and 10 original films, documentaries and specials in its first year, according to the company.

Netflix and Amazon spend billions of dollars on original content for their rival streaming television services, hoping to win viewer loyalty with must-watch films or shows.

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At the same time, Google-owned YouTube has been steadily evolving from a global video sharing platform to an Internet-age television service.

With Hollywood stars galore, Apple last month unveiled its streaming video plans along with news and game subscription offerings as part of an effort to shift its focus to digital content and services to break free of its reliance on iPhone sales.

The Apple TV+ on-demand, ad-free subscription service will launch this year in 100 countries, the company said.

This year is also expected to see the launch of a streaming television service from WarnerMedia, the media-entertainment division of AT&T acquired in an $85-billion deal.

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The new entrants, with more expected, could launch a formidable challenge to Netflix, which has about 140 million paid subscribers in 190 markets, and to other services such as Amazon Prime.

Netflix is likely to feel pain, not only from intense competition, but also from the loss of content from the big libraries of Disney and Time Warner.


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‘I’ve heard enough’: Representative refuses to ask Lewandowski questions because it’s giving him ‘a platform’

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In a brief moment of the Corey Lewandowski hearing Tuesday, Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA) refused to allow the top Trump advisor any more time to promote himself or his political campaign.

She probed whether President Donald Trump had ever promised to pardon Lewandowski, which he refused to answer.

"The president did indicate that he’s going to support your Senate campaign. Didn’t he?" Scanlon asked. But Lewandowski said he wasn't sure.

"Okay. Well, I just want to know for the record when Mr. Lewandowski asked for the committee to give him a little break an hour and a half, two hours ago, he took the time during that recess to launch his Senate campaign website with a tweet," she continued. "And I think that fact says an awful lot about the witness’ motivation to appear here today and I’ve heard enough. I yield back."

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Putin aims a weaponized barb at Trump over Saudi attack – and hits the mark

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Russian President Vladimir Putin joked this week about selling defense systems to Riyadh following weekend attacks on Saudi oil facilities. The gag was aimed at US President Donald Trump and it hit the mark with the precision of a guided weapon.

It was a masterful piece of trolling by the czar of trolls – a snide, disparaging jibe with an element of truth twisted into absurdity for maximum effect and laughs. At a joint press conference with his Turkish and Iranian counterparts in Ankara on Monday, Putin cast his bait into the volatile Persian Gulf region just days after devastating attacks on Saudi oil facilities exposed the limits of the Gulf kingdom’s expensive defense systems.

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Black carbon from air pollution found in placentas: study

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Black carbon particles typically emitted by vehicle exhaust and coal-fired power plants have been detected on the foetus-facing side of placentas, researchers said Tuesday.

The concentration of particles was highest in the placentas of women most exposed to airborn pollutants in their daily life, according to a study in Nature Communications.

"Our study provides compelling evidence for the presence of black carbon particles originating from air pollution in human placenta," the authors said.

The findings, they added, offer a "plausible explanation for the detrimental health effects of pollution from early life onwards."

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