Disney Announces Star-Branded Streaming Service To Launch Internationally In 2021
Disney CEO Bob Chapek recently hosted a quarterly earnings call about the state of the business at the moment, and dropped an interesting little bit of information, which may, or may not, have some impact in the UK. During the call, he announced that they would be launched a new streaming service internationally under the “Star” brand. However, he didn’t say where exactly it would launch, so this may or may not come to the UK.
If you are now thinking “the what brand?”, Star, which Disney acquired as part of the big Disney/Fox deal, is not all that well known in the UK. However, it is well known in other parts of the world, particularly Indian and Asian territories. The new service will be set up as a depository for those shows which are deemed too adult for Disney+, with content coming from ABC, FX, Freeform, Searchlight, and 20th Century Studios. Which brings you to the next question – why not use the Hulu brand? There have been rumours of Hulu launching internationally for a while, however, Chapek said there were no plans to “make any investment in that business internationally”, and they will be launching Star instead.
There are a couple of reasons for this, which Chapek explained during the call. “I think it’s important to look at the differences in how we plan on going into the market, and the first thing is, Hulu aggregates third-party content, where this will not. This will be rooted in our own content, from ABC Studios, Fox TV, FX, Freeform, Searchlight and 20th Century.” Oddly, he does then go on to say Hulu “has no brand awareness outside the US…” which is strange, as I would argue that Hulu has far more brand awareness than Star in a lot of the world outside of India/Asia.
He continues by saying “Nor does Hulu have any content that’s been licensed to it internationally. So this gives us the ability to market it under the Disney umbrella, and have synergies with our existing platform. So that’s our basic rationale.” This is a fair point, as Hulu does operate as a sort of catch-all-catch-up service for the US, running series from non-Disney networks, and it wouldn’t be able to do that internationally due to them not having the rights to a lot of those shows overseas. This new service will only be running shows from Disney-owned brands. So whilst it is called Star, it technically could run Hulu Original shows internationally.
Chapek also added that Star streaming service will run on the same technology as Disney+ saying “We want to mirror our successful Disney+ strategy by using our Disney+ technical platform, rooting it in content that we already own, and distributing it under a successful international brand we also already own – which is of course Star – and then bringing it to market in a very close association to Disney.”
As I stressed at the start of the article, we do not know if this will land in the UK or not. If (and I stress IF) it does, that’s going to make things, well, interesting… in terms of deals with other broadcasters such as Sky, who run shows like ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ and ‘The Rookie’, and the BBC, which currently has an overall deal for content from FX. Right now, all Chapek announced was Star would launch “Internationally” which could mean anywhere outside of the US. We will let you know when we hear more info!