Despite the 10 million sign-ups on launch day, my opinion on Disney Plus being a complete family streaming service was that it wouldn’t really take off! But of course, the execs at Disney aren’t dumb to invest massive funds into the service but as it comes out Disney did have plans that would rapidly expand its subscriber base. Be it, its free trial and free one year subscription to Verizon customers or the single flat rate all options included a $7 price tag. Hulu, Disney+, ESPN+ bundle is also an amazing option at only $12.99.
Even though, Disney Plus had brought in Pixar, Star Wars, Nat Geo, MCU, and Disney’s originals the streaming platform was not complete until the introduction of something that caters to the Netflix kind of content. Content for adults such as Breaking Bad, Stranger Things, Money Heist, Narcos, and the list continues! For this type of content, Disney did have Hulu, but the problem with Hulu is that it is limited to the United States only. And Disney surely cannot leave such a lucrative niche for the US alone.
Hence, “A Star is born” STAR will be the sixth tile on the Disney Plus platform and fil in the void of content for adults. It is planned that from February 23rd Disney will start rolling out Star in European countries, Canada and New Zealand. The good thing about Star is that it will be available at no additional cost and will simply start appearing on your Disney Plus account. Disney will add content on Star from its other streaming properties such as FX and movies from 20th Century will be available for audiences of higher age ratings.
Star Plus is also being introduced by the company to Latin American subscribers. The new streaming service will carry entertainment owned by Disney from its top brands, but will also carry content from ESPN and ESPN Plus. This is one of Disney’s biggest pushes to bring linear sports content to a streaming service. Star Plus opens in June 2021. The news comes as Disney announced it has more than 137 million subscribers, including 86 million on Disney Plus alone, across its different streaming platforms.
In early August, Disney CEO Bob Chapek first spoke about Star, announcing plans to launch an international streaming service that would effectively become a more general, Hulu-like entertainment platform. Star will not carry titles from other studios, unlike Hulu. Instead, Star will only carry ABC, FX, Freeform, Searchlight, and 20th Century Studios TV shows and films. For various countries in which it operates, the streamer will also have localised content. Chapek believes that adding Star will “enable us to grow our business even further in the years ahead.”
At the time Chapek stated, “In terms of the general entertainment offering internationally, we want to mirror our successful Disney Plus strategy by using our Disney Plus technical platform, bringing in content we already own and distributing it under a successful international brand that we also already own, which is, of course, Star,”
Overseas, Disney Stars Studio is a huge brand. The company rebranded the streamer to Disney Plus Hotstar when it acquired Indian conglomerate Star India and its subsequent streaming service, Hotstar, back in 2019. Star is now referred to as Disney’s Star India. It makes sense to have “Star” become the international brand name, on top of Disney Plus.
Details about what is going on with Hulu were absent from Chapek’s announcement. Before Star was announced in August by Chapek, the plan was to bring Hulu to international markets. That was the case under former CEO Bob Iger until February 2020. It can only amass limited subscribers if Hulu remains a domestic-only streaming service.
Chapek addressed this in August stating that “Hulu has no brand awareness outside of the US.” However, with Disney+ is Hulu still a priority for Disney? The company is facing a multibillion-dollar payout to Comcast in 2024 and, while Disney is seeing “very, very strong demand for advertising on Hulu,” according to chief financial officer Christine McCarthy, Hulu’s place in the overall Disney streaming empire is a bit of a conundrum.
After the former CEO Randy Freer resigned at the end of January, a percentage of Hulu executives have quit the company. To oversee the service, Disney executives have been brought in. Now, Hulu will be partly overseen by Kareem Daniel, who heads up the new media and entertainment division of Disney and is in charge of streaming all things This afternoon, Chapek and Daniel made it clear that Star is a major part of Disney’s future; but the fate of Hulu still remains unclear.