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Disney Plus Dolby Atmos not working? Don’t worry − it’s intentional

Disney Plus went live in the UK and a handful of other European countries this week, but the launch has been dampened slightly by efforts to lower bandwidth and ease any potential strain on broadband networks, with so many more people working from home than usual.

Understandably, most of the discussion so far has focused on Disney’s decision to reduce picture quality. But its efforts also affect the quality audio.

“In light of the concerns expressed by government officials regarding the use of broadband services in this challenging time, we have instituted measures to lower bandwidth utilization, and in some circumstances streaming content in HD and UHD formats, including Dolby Atmos audio, will be limited or unavailable,” a Disney Plus help page explains.

“Thank you for your patience and understanding.”

So if you’re a Disney Plus subscriber (with a Dolby Atmos-compatible audio system), and you’re not getting the full effects of Dolby Atmos right now, that’s why.

As Trusted Reviews’ TV & Audio Editor Kob Monney wrote when he fired up Disney Plus earlier today:

“Currently titles are only listed as being available in 5.1, but the app only plays sound through our TV instead of through the soundbar. We imagine this may either be a compatibility issue, or Disney dialling back bandwidth due to streaming restrictions with the coronavirus outbreak.”

Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV Plus have also decided to reduce streaming quality in a selection of European countries, though BT has said that there was no real need for the streaming giants to do so.

Related: Disney Plus vs Netflix

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“Netflix has reduced its bitrates in reaction to European operators as a whole, not specifically the UK. The UK has a very capable core network because UK consumers are more heavily invested in HD streaming video, including live football, Netflix, etc., than many other nations,” a BT spokesperson told Trusted Reviews this week.

“So in the UK there isn’t a pressing need to reduce bitrates at the current time, but we are supportive of the move, as clearly the situation is unprecedented and it is common sense to do it.”

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