Disney+ has offered a workaround to Mena users who are experiencing issues accessing the streaming service because of regional settings.
The streaming platform, which has launched in 65 global markets to date, became available in more than a dozen countries in the region on Wednesday, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Algeria, Lebanon, Libya, Palestine and Oman.
However, some users have reported that they are having trouble launching the app on their Android and iOS devices.
This is particularly common with those who have their App Store or Google Play account location settings selected to a country outside of Mena.
After downloading the app, affected users are met with a page that informs them “Disney+ is unavailable in your location".
The message has frustrated users keen to thumb through the platform’s catalogue, which includes some 1,200 films and TV shows from Disney, encompassing titles from Pixar, Marvel, National Geographic, Star Wars and more.
So, what’s going on?
Disney+ says the streaming platform was tailor-made for the Mena region.
The content has been specifically curated for regional audiences, with subtitles in Arabic available for most programmes. Dubbing is also being developed for most fan favourites in both modern standard Arabic and Egyptian Arabic.
However, since the platform is catered to the region, it is a different version of the app than the one that is downloaded by accounts set outside Mena.
“Disney+ has been localised specifically for the Mena region, to ensure an enhanced user experience that’s bespoke to the Middle Eastern community,” a Disney+ Mena representative told The National.
“This includes providing local language options, local content selections, a seamless user-interface experience, and back-end functionality to better cater to our unique markets. This localised approach also gives us the flexibility to update our app in line with our local market needs.”
Hoping to streamline login and signup processes, regional accounts are also pegged to mobile numbers as opposed to emails.
The localised Disney+ app asks for mobile numbers during log in, sending a four-digit code as a one-time password. The app downloaded from stores set outside the region, however, will ask for an email login.
What is the solution?
One simple fix is to change the location of your Google Play or App Store account. Android users can access the setting through the General Account preferences on the Google Play app. But this can get dicey.
According to the Google Play help page: “You must wait 12 months after initially creating a payments profile before you can change your Play country. You can only change your Play country once per year. If you change your country, you won’t be able to change it back for one year.”
Also, you’re likely to lose access to some of your already downloaded apps, movies, TV shows and books.
It’s not much easier for iOS users.
Changing the location of your Apple ID account means having to cancel your subscriptions before switching over. Sure, you can sign right back up but there’s no telling how much of your content you’ll retain.
There is, however, a better solution.
Disney+ Mena suggests creating a new account with regional settings to download the app then switching back to your original account.
“If subscribers with a foreign app store prefer to not change their region, there are other options, too,” the Disney+ representative said.
“This includes creating a new iCloud account using the Mena-based country they are in, then downloading the Disney+ app. After this, they can go back to their original iCloud account without losing any payment data or other subscriptions.”
The workaround, however, doesn’t apply to some Android TVs, such as TCL, where even regional accounts cannot download the regional version of the Disney+ app.
Reaching out through the Disney+ Mena helpline, an agent suggests in these situations it is best to reach out to the TV manufacturer to help change the location settings.