The launch of Star means a lot of new content for Disney Plus, but not in the US.

Today marks the launch of Star. It’s a new section of Disney Plus for international audiences that will offer more mature R-rated movies, FX TV shows, and other shows and movies that Disney owns the rights to but doesn’t fit the picture. Disney Plus family.

Star is effectively Disney’s solution to the fact that Hulu does not exist in international markets. It paves the way for the company to expand the Disney Plus value proposition to international customers with the most crucial currency any streaming service has to offer: a larger content library.

What that means is that international users are about to get a massive influx of movies and shows available on Disney Plus, through Star, that won’t be available to US customers, or rather, they won’t be. available to US customers through Disney Plus. . Instead, those shows and movies will continue to live on Hulu as part of the separate service.

Photo: Twentieth Century Fox

If you are an international Disney Plus customer living in the UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria, Switzerland, Portugal, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Australia, New Zealand or Canada, the regions that will have access to Star starting today, is good news.

On the contrary, if you are a customer from the US, you may feel a bit cheated. The library that Disney offers on Star includes television shows such as Family Guy, How i met your mother, Lost, Firefly, Grey’s Anatomy, Desperate housewives, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Y Bones, along with movies like Deadpool 2, Kingsman: The Secret Service, Borat, Y Brave Heart – Movies and shows to which Disney already owns the rights, but requires customers to pay an additional subscription to Hulu to view them in the US.

This is due to a complex matrix of rights agreements and income streams. While Star and Hulu will have their fair share of overlap, including Hulu originals like With love, Victor – Hulu in the US still has a much larger library, including shows and movies licensed from third-party studios like MGM and Paramount.

Star, on the other hand, will only feature first-person content to which Disney has the rights to its own studios (which include ABC, Hulu, FX, Freeform, 20th Television, 20th Century Studios, and Touchstone Pictures). It appears that Disney’s balance sheet has concluded that subscribers are willing to pay for the separate Hulu and Disney Plus libraries in the US, but that the more limited Star line was enough to justify a separate paid purchase. for international clients.

Part of that distinction also comes down to the Angry God of ARPU (Average Revenue Per User), something that’s on Disney’s mind a lot as it seeks to build Disney Plus around the world. Looking at Disney’s 2020 earnings, the company’s direct-to-consumer streaming business increased 73 percent year-over-year, with revenue of $ 3.5 billion. But actually did less Each customer’s money on average, with ARPU up to $ 4.03 per subscriber, largely due to the substantially lower cost of Disney Plus Hotstar in India and Indonesia.

(By the way, Star shouldn’t be confused with Disney Plus Hotstar, which operates under the Disney Plus banner and features Disney’s original shows and movies, but it’s a very different service in terms of pricing and distribution than Disney Plus / Hulu on the USA and Disney Plus / Star in other international markets).

Converting Star to a cheaper international version of Hulu doesn’t help fix that ARPU problem. But using Hulu content to boost Disney Plus subscribers in the most lucrative markets (per customer) in Europe, Australia and Canada does.

That is especially true once you factor in the fact that Disney is also using the Star launch to raise prices in those markets from € 6.99 per month to € 8.99, marking a proportionally larger increase than the increase $ 1 price tag ($ 6.99 to $ 7.99) planned for Disney More users in the US later this year.

And using that huge amount of Star content to sweeten the jackpot is the perfect answer for Disney because it already owns the rights to everything. Unlike Hulu, which costs Disney a ton in licensing costs and ad revenue deals, adding Star to Disney Plus internationally doesn’t cost a penny. It just better monetizes the things the company already owns.

That’s even reflected in the branding itself: Last year, CEO Bob Chapek announced that he would use the Star brand internationally instead of Hulu, citing both the fact that Hulu has the aggregate content partnership and his lack of awareness of brand outside the United States.

Indeed, Star’s existence could be a glimpse into a possible future for Disney’s streaming efforts in the US, should Hulu end up being unsustainable as stakeholders continue to bring back their shows and movies with license to its own streaming services like Peacock, Paramount Plus. or HBO Max.

If Disney plans to offer a single unified streaming service in the US, it’s still a bit far off though. For now, US customers will have to pay for the Disney package (which includes Disney Plus, Hulu, and ESPN Plus) if they want to stream FX shows. Y WandaVision.

But whether you live in the US with Hulu or in Canada with Star, there is one main winner in all of this: Disney’s bottom line.

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