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Disney to launch adult-oriented Star streamer internationally in 2021

Buoyed by the news that Disney+ had reached 60.5 million subscribers as part of a total subscriber base of 100 million for its D2C segment, Disney has announced that it will launch a new international streaming service.

Launching next year, the company will offer an international streaming service dubbed Star, and while details are scarce, it would appear that Star will be an international equivalent to Hulu with a focus on more adult-oriented content as opposed to the IP-driven Disney+.

Disney CEO Bob Chapek announced the service on the company’s Q3 earnings call and said: “Mirroring the strategy we successfully pursued with Disney+, the offering will be rooted in content we own from the prolific and critically acclaimed production engines and libraries of ABC Studios, Fox Television, FX, Freeform, 20th Century Studios and Searchlight. In many markets, the offering will be fully integrated into our established Disney+ platform from both a marketing and a technology perspective, and it will be distributed under the Star brand which has been successfully utilised by the company for other general entertainment platform launches, particularly with Disney+ Hotstar in India.”

The CEO added that Disney+’s growth “clearly demonstrates the value of our content,” and that the launch of a Star-branded streaming service is “further extending the value of that content internationally.”

Rather than just launching Hulu internationally, Chapek said: “Hulu aggregates third party content; this will not…Hulu has no brand awareness outside of the US.”

It’s also worth considering that much of Hulu’s acclaimed original programming such as historical comedy The Great, dystopian drama The Handmaid’s Tale and critically acclaimed sci-fi series Devs is tied up in licencing deals with a number of international broadcasters and streamers, making it a near-impossibility of Hulu being able to launch in a form equivalent to its US counterpart.

Chapek said that Star “gives us the ability to market this under the Disney umbrella and have synergies with our existing platform,” and that “we see this as part of a sort of a sequential Domino strategy in terms of getting towards an offering on Disney+.”

Disney acquired the Star brand as a part of the US$71 billion merger with Fox and has since utilised its Hotstar streamer to launch Disney+ in India, with an Indonesian expansion planned for September.

Tags: Disney, Hulu, Star