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Disney: 137m OTT subscriptions, plan to debut Star brand in key markets, big increase in content spend

Bob Chapek announcing Disney’s plans at its Investor Day event

The Walt Disney Company has revealed that its now has 137 million paid subscription across its direct-to-consumer services and has unveiled plans to up its streaming efforts, including details of the launch of international general entertainment content brand Star.

At a virtual investor day held yesterday, the company announced that, as of December 2, its direct-to-consumer services has exceeded a total of 13 7 million global paid subscriptions, including 11.5 million ESPN+ subscribers, 38.8 million Hulu subscribers, and 86.8 million Disney+ subscribers since its launch in November 2019.

Disney now expects its streaming services to hit 300-350 million total subscriptions by fiscal 2024, driven primarily by a significant increase in content output. Disney+ is targeting to release more than 100 titles per year.

Building on the launch of Disney+ Hotstar in India and Indonesia, Disney will launch international general entertainment content brand Star, which will be included as part of Disney+ in select international markets and launch as a separate streaming service in Latin America as Star+.

The Star brand will serve as home to thousands of hours of television and movies from Disney’s creative studios, including Disney Television Studios, FX, 20th Century Studios, 20th Television, and more, enhanced by the addition of local programming from the regions where available.

Star will also launch in Europe and several other international markets on February 23 as a fully integrated part of Disney+, with its own branded tile and a new collection of general entertainment series, movies and documentaries, doubling the content catalog available to Disney+ subscribers.

In Europe, Disney will up the price of the serivce to €8.99 per month or €89.99 per year, with a similar pricing adjustment in the other Star launch markets, including Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.

The streaming service will continue its global rollout, now with Star, in new markets beginning with Singapore on February 23, followed by Eastern Europe, Hong Kong, Japan, and South Korea later in 2021.

From March next year, Disney+ will up its price in the US to US$7.99 per month or US$79.99 per year, while the Disney Bundle with Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ will be priced at US$13.99 per month.

Disney also announced a new agreement with Comcast that will bring Disney+ and ESPN+ experiences to Comcast X1 set-top boxes and Flex platforms in the first quarter of next year, joining Hulu which became available on these platforms in the spring. Additionally, Hulu customers will also be able to subscribe to ESPN+ within the Hulu user interface and access the ESPN+ lineup of sports programming there beginning in early 2021.

In Latin America, Star+ will launch in June 2021 as a stand-alone service for US$7.50 per month or the local equivalent, or as part of an bundle with Disney+ for US$9.00 per month.

Disney is also investing heavily in new content for Disney+, with about 10 Star Wars series and 10 Marvel series, as well as 15 Disney live action, Disney Animation, and Pixar series in the pipeline.

Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Raya and the Last Dragon’ will meanwhile be available on Disney+ with Premier Access in most Disney+ markets, at the same time as it is released theatrically, on March 5, for US$29.99, and upcoming original titles from Disney Television Studios, FX and 20th Century Studios will also premiere on Disney+ as Star Originals.

“The tremendous success we’ve achieved across our unique portfolio of streaming services, with more than 137 million subscriptions worldwide, has bolstered our confidence in our acceleration toward a DTC-first business model. With our amazing creative teams and our ever-growing collection of the high-quality branded entertainment that consumers want, we believe we are incredibly well positioned to achieve our long-term goals,” said Bob Chapek, CEO, The Walt Disney Company.