Since its Australian launch in November 2019, Disney+ has quickly become one of the most popular streaming services in the country, with similar popularity as it launched around the rest of the world in early 2020. The streaming service that’s the home of almost everything Disney has been a huge hit with family audiences in particular, with over 86 million paying subscribers worldwide. That’s a phenomenal number – it took Netflix years to reach a similar point.
Boasting access to the Disney back catalogue as well as a handful of originals, Disney+ has been lacking in only one area in its first year – content for more adult audiences. While the Marvel and Star Wars franchises are a drawcard (not least the runaway hit Star Wars spin-off The Mandalorian) there’s not been much else to appeal to the grown-ups.
Disney’s purchase of 21st Century Fox gave them access to that studio’s massive library, but only a handful of movies turned up for streaming. And Disney’s own back catalogue of movies from their more “adult” era under the Touchstone Pictures banner has also been largely off-limits to Disney+ so far.
The good news is that’s all about to change. At its recent “Investors Day,” Disney announced that it’s about to substantially expand Disney+ here in Australia via a new “brand” that will live inside the existing Disney+ app – and unlike the rest of Disney+ it’ll offer plenty for adult viewers to enjoy.
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Disney’s plans for streaming for more mature audiences originally involved taking their US service Hulu global, but with the announcement of Star as a component of Disney+ that now will not be happening.
Star (the brand name comes from an Indian satellite channel Disney acquired from Fox) will appear in the Disney+ app automatically starting from February 23rd, 2021. Like the existing sub-sections (Marvel, Pixar etc) the new Star section will have one key difference – it’ll be able to be locked behind its own user-set PIN code, so that kids in the household won’t accidentally end up watching non-kid-friendly movies and shows. The PIN lock is optional.
While Disney hasn’t announced a list of exactly what movies and shows will end up being part of Star, it’s known that it’ll include titles from Disney’s own Touchstone Pictures, 20th Century Fox, FX, ABC (US) and more. Movies that couldn’t be on Disney+ before because of their adult content – such as the Alien series – will find a home on Star.
Disney is promising 1000 hours of content on Star at launch, with new original shows including productions local to each country, something that will sound like good news to Australia’s movie and TV industry.
Pricing for Star
When it comes to the price, it’s extremely good news for the many people who’ve been waiting for more mature Disney content and expected to pay for a separate streaming service to get it. Disney has decided to raise the monthly price of the service to account for all the new content being offered (though an eventual price rise has always seemed likely).
Starting on February 23rd 2021, the monthly subscription changes to $11.99/month, up from $8.99 a month. It’s a modest increase that still positions Disney+ as one of the best value streaming services on the market.
The annual price goes up to $119.99/year, working out at an even $10 per month. Any subscribers who are currently on an annual subscription won’t get charged the new price until their year ends; that also applies to anyone who takes out an annual subscription at the current rate ($89.99) before Star’s launch date.
Disney also said that current prices for existing subscribers would be honoured for six months, meaning that those who stay subscribed and pay monthly won’t be hit with the price rise until August 2021.
Alongside their announcement of Star’s launch date and pricing, Disney announced a huge slate of new shows that will be going into production for Disney+ and its brands. That includes 10 new Star Wars shows and 10 shows set in the Marvel universe, as well as originals from Pixar, National Geographic and Disney itself. As the company looks to a future where streaming via Disney+ is a mammoth part of their business, the aim seems to be to drop new shows as regularly as Netflix now does.
And with the success of the direct-to-streaming release of Mulan (first as a premium paid extra, then included as part of Disney+ some weeks later) we can expect to see more first-release Disney movies launching on the platform in the coming year.To find out more about Disney+ be sure to check out our review of the service!