Monday, June 14

‘Star Wars,’ ‘Pinocchio’ and More as Disney Leans Sharply Into Streaming


But challenges lie ahead. Building streaming services is monstrously expensive, and Disney now has four: Disney+, Hulu (39 million subscribers), ESPN+ (11.5 million) and Star+, an overseas version of Hulu that will roll out in Latin America in the coming months. Losses in Disney’s direct-to-consumer division totaled $2.8 billion in the company’s 2020 fiscal year. The company has also given up billions of dollars in licensing fees as it has amassed library content on Disney+ rather than selling to outside companies like Netflix.

Netflix and Amazon remain formidable competitors, pouring billions of dollars a year apiece into original programming. In addition, traditional entertainment companies like WarnerMedia, ViacomCBS, NBCUniversal and Discovery Communications are determined to compete with a far-out-in-front Disney for streaming subscribers.

A significant portion of the presentation was dedicated to Star, which will be stocked with programming from Disney properties like ABC, FX, Freeform, Searchlight and 20th Century Studios, which Rupert Murdoch sold to Disney last year. In Latin America, Star+ will roll out as a stand-alone service in June and also include some ESPN coverage of sporting events. (It will mostly be sold in a bundle with Disney+, the company said.)

In Europe, Canada, Australia and several other markets, Star+ will be integrated directly into Disney+, which will add a vast amount of more mature programming to the service (“Deadpool 2,” the “Family Guy” cartoon series), allowing Disney to potentially reach an audience far beyond families.

The addition of a Star channel inside Disney+ will also justify a price increase of roughly 28 percent, to about $11 a month.

New programming is also headed to the Disney-owned Hulu, including the series “Nine Perfect Strangers,” a mystery from David E. Kelley starring Regina Hall, Nicole Kidman and Melissa McCarthy — what Dana Walden, chairman of entertainment for Walt Disney Television, called “juicy, can’t-turn-it-off content.”

The Disney-owned FX, which funnels its programming to multiple Disney streaming services, is working on a television spinoff of the “Alien” movie franchise and a retelling of “Shogun,” the James Clavell saga, along with a half-dozen other high-profile projects.



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