Disney will fuel international growth with Star brand and Star+ app

Disney+, the on-demand streaming service that launched a year ago and has already courted over 86 million subscribers, is ready to expand to more international markets.

At its annual investor day Thursday, the American entertainment giant announced a new streaming brand called “Star” that will feature content from ABC, FX and 20th Century Studios.

In some markets, such as Europe, Canada, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand, Star will be unveiled to customers as a new hub within Disney+ app beginning February 20 next year, the company said. It will expand Star to more markets next year, the company said, but it did not identify those markets.

Star will come at a price: The company said it will be increasing the monthly subscription price of Disney+ from £5.99 to £8.99 in Europe. The tariff will be similarly adjusted (raised) in every other market where Disney+ subscribers get access to Star, the company said.

Image Credits: Disney

In Latin America, Star will be a standalone streaming service and offered under the brand name “Star+.” The service will launch there in June 2021, and will feature general entertainment movies and television shows as well as a lineup of live sports — thanks to ESPN — including soccer and tennis.

Today’s announcement appears to be an admission that Hulu, another streaming service owned by Disney and which has amassed about 39 million subscribers, might never go international.

Disney also hinted that it plans to expand Disney+ Hotstar, an on-demand streaming service it currently offers in India and Indonesia, to more markets, but it did not name those markets. The company said that Disney+ Hotstar accounts for roughly 30% of Disney+’s subscriber base — which roughly translates to 26 million. Disney+ Hotstar had about 18 million subscribers at the end of September, the company revealed last month.

Hotstar had millions of subscribers before Disney rebranded the service in India earlier this year. The streaming service became part of Disney as part of the acquisition of Fox, which owned Hotstar-operator Star India (a different Star! Star India operates dozens of TV channels in India and is now owned by Disney.)

Disney has used a similar strategy of relying on existing regional properties and industry collaborations to expand to several other international markets. In France, for instance, the service is available through a partnership with Canal. In Spain, with Moviestar.

Disney+ Hotstar is priced at $20 a year in India. The company generated an average revenue of about $2.17 per user in India in the quarter that ended in September, it said last month, compared to $5.3 it clocked from Disney+ subscribers in the U.S. during the same period.