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Google partnership with Disney streams its catalog to Android

Disney's service, which previously worked only with Apple devices, comes to Android, the most widely used mobile operating system in the world.

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Disney's partnerships with both Google and Apple give it access to nearly all the mobile devices in the US. Google

Disney is allowing you to watch "Frozen" on your Android device, no matter where you bought it.

The media giant on Monday announced a partnership with Google that lets people stream movies they own from Disney, Pixar and Marvel -- all owned by The Walt Disney Company -- through an app on devices running Google's Android mobile operating system. That lineup includes Disney movies purchased from Google Play, the company's apps and entertainment store; iTunes, Apple's rival service; and digital versions of DVDs and Blu-ray.

Disney originally unveiled the initiative in February with a service called Disney Movies Anywhere. The scheme allows you access to all the Disney movies you've purchased and lets you download them to a device or stream them over the Internet. The app also lists the titles of more than 400 Disney, Marvel and Pixar movies -- including bonus content -- available for purchase.

Until now, the catch was that you had to own an Apple device to use Disney's service. Now, it works with Android, too.

The partnership underscores the ever-growing importance of online streaming video to traditional media companies. Last month, HBO unveiled plans for a streaming service separate from its cable channel. Also last month, CBS said it was launching a digital subscription video service that includes live streaming and video on demand. (CNET is owned by CBS Interactive, a unit of CBS.)

For Disney, the Google partnership puts the company's films on the most widely used mobile operating system in the world. Android devices make up more than 80 percent of the mobile market, according to IDC. Combined with Apple's iOS, Disney has access to a nearly all the phones sold in the US.

For Google, the company gets a content deal for some of the most popular films in the movie industry -- especially as Google makes a push for Android's expansion to screens other than smartphones and tablets, like TVs. The Android version of Disney's app lets the devices stream the content to TVs using Google's Chromecast streaming stick.

Jamie Voris, Disney's chief technology officer, said the biggest benefit for a consumer is about being able to watch a movie on different platforms, like if someone owns both an Android phone and an iPad. "You used to buy a shiny plastic disc and know it would work anywhere," Voris said in an interview. Now it will again, he said.

The initiative also furthers Disney's battles against piracy by making its catalog more readily accessible over the Internet. "If you make a legal, reasonably priced offering, people often choose that," Voris said. New movie releases can cost around $20 on the Google Play store.

The companies did not announce availability plans for Disney's Lucasfilm catalog, which includes the "Star Wars" movies (though Google said those films are not yet available digitally). Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012 for $4 billion and has been producing a new "Star Wars" film due for release next year.