Disney Plus has made good on its plans to offer general entertainment service Star in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, giving the company a new streaming outlet for more grown-up programming.
Also today, Disney+ with Star launched in Singapore, the first market where Disney+ has launched with the new Star offering. Eastern Europe, Hong Kong, Japan, and South Korea are due to follow later this year. After its initial launch in November 2019, Disney+ is now in dozens of territories.
In Europe, the Star service will cost €8.99 per month or €89.90 per year, with a similar pricing in the other launch markets.
With Hulu only a domestic operation for the time being, the revamp and expansion of Star gives Disney a valuable global streaming outlet for a wider range of content, especially what it produces in-house. It took over the operations of Star, a potent force in linear TV and streaming in Southeast Asia and elsewhere, in 2019 as part of the $71.3 billion acquisition of most of 21st Century Fox.
Thousands of hours of movies and TV shows from Disney General Entertainment Content are featured on the new Star offering. Suppliers under that tent include Disney Television Studios (ABC Signature and Twentieth Television), FX Productions, 20th Century Studios and Searchlight Pictures.
Star will premiere more than 35 new originals from Disney Television Studios in International markets, with over 35 first-run series set to premiere by the end of the first year. Titles will vary by region. Among those streaming in select markets at launch are the David E. Kelley-created drama Big Sky; Love, Simon spinoff series Love, Victor; and adult animated sitcom Solar Opposites, co-created by Justin Roiland of Rick & Morty and Mike McMahan, who was a writer’s assistant on the animated hit. Drama series Helstrom will also be available at launch.
The service also plans locally produced originals in select regions.
Library series on Star include Grey’s Anatomy (a big draw in the U.S. for Netflix), 24, The X-Files, Lost, Family Guy, Atlanta, black-ish and Scandal. Films include award-winners from recent years like The Favourite and The Grand Budapest Hotel, along with classics such as Pretty Woman, Die Hard 2, The Devil Wears Prada and Moulin Rouge.
As part of today’s launch, Disney+ has also added new parental controls. (See explanatory video above.) The beefed-up tools include the ability to set limits on access to content for specific profiles based on content ratings and the ability to add a PIN to lock profiles with access to mature content. The controls will be available on Disney+ in the U.S. as well as internationally.
As Star begins its rollout, the initial tie-up with the Star assets has already demonstrated its worth. Streaming bundle Disney+Hotstar offers Disney+ at a low price point to Hotstar subscribers in India and Indonesia. It accounted for about 30% of the total Disney+ reach of 94.9 million subscribers as of January 2, the company reported this month.
The latest launch plans were announced last December at the company’s investor day. Wall Street continues to reward Disney’s pivot to streaming, which has come at a time when Covid-19 has battered its other operations like theatrical film releasing and theme parks. The company’s stock rose 4% on Monday to an all-time high of $191.76, in large part due to anticipation for the Star rollout.
“Disney+ has touched the lives of nearly a hundred million people around the globe by providing a home for exceptional storytelling from the beloved brands of Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic, and today’s launch of the Star-branded international general entertainment offering marks an exciting expansion for the service,” said Rebecca Campbell, Chairman, International Operations and Direct-to-Consumer, The Walt Disney Co.. “With the addition of Star, we’re building even more value for consumers by adding an incredible array of high-quality movies and series for families, older teens, and adults, fueled by the acquisition of 21st Century Fox and our creative studios.”