Disney Ramps Up Streaming Strategy


The Walt Disney Company has set new targets for its suite of streaming services, unveiling a raft of new content and an expansion of the Star international brand at its 2020 Investor Day, where it revealed it has topped 137 million paid subs across its portfolio.

The virtual event was led by CEO Bob Chapek and Chairman Bob Iger, with presentations from the leaders of the company’s content and distribution teams as well as Christine McCarthy, senior executive VP and CFO, and Lowell Singer, senior VP of investor relations.

“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,” said Chapek. “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.”

As of December 2, Disney had 137 million global paid subscribers, led by 86.8 million at Disney+, 38.8 million at Hulu and 11.5 million at ESPN+. By fiscal 2024, the company expects it will have between 300 million and 350 million total subscriptions. The company is increasing its U.S. pricing in 2021, with the monthly charge for Disney+ rising to $7.99 and the bundle to $13.99.

In the international market, Disney+ will arrive in Singapore on February 23, 2021, delivering more than 500 films and 15,000 episodes of content. It will be priced at S$11.98 a month. On the same day, Disney will launch the Star brand in Europe and several other markets.

Star will be included as part of Disney+ in select international markets, and launch as a separate streaming service in Latin America as Star+. It will deliver television and movies from Disney’s creative studios, including Disney Television Studios, FX, 20th Century Studios, 20th Television, and more, with local programming from the regions where available. In Europe, Star will cost €8.99 per month, with similar pricing in Australia, New Zealand and Canada. It will also arrive in Singapore on February 23, 2021, followed by Eastern Europe, Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea later in 2021. Star+ arrives in Latin America as a standalone service, delivering the Star content lineup, local originals and live sports from ESPN, in June for about $7.50 a month, or bundled with Disney+ for $9.

The raft of content announcements includes ten Star Wars series and ten Marvel series,  15 Disney live-action, Disney Animation and Pixar series, and 15 Disney live-action, Disney Animation and Pixar features. Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Raya and the Last Dragon will be available on Disney+ for $29.99 at the same time as it is released in theaters on March 5. Internationally, many upcoming original titles from Disney Television Studios, FX and 20th Century Studios will also premiere on Disney+ as Star Originals.

“This incredible slate of new original content reflects our continuing commitment to harness the resources and immense creativity across our company to bring audiences extraordinary entertainment experiences unlike anything else in the market,” Iger said. “We’re proud that the unparalleled quality of our storytelling from our iconic brands remains evident across all distribution platforms, from movie theaters to our direct-to-consumer services.”

New Disney+ projects from Disney Television Studios include Beauty and the Beast (working title) starring Luke Evans and Josh Gad, and Swiss Family Robinson, which is a reimagining of the classic from Ron Moore and Jon M. Chu. The studio is also developing Percy Jackson and the Olympians, based on the book series by Rick Riordan.

National Geographic’s Disney+ slate includes Limitless with Chris Hemsworth, Welcome to Earth with Will Smith and season four of Genius, which will profile Martin Luther King, Jr.

Lucasfilm has several projects for Disney+ in the works, including Obi-Wan Kenobi, starring Ewan McGregor with Hayden Christensen returning as Darth Vader. There are also two new series set in the Mandalorian era from Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni: Rangers of the New Republic and Ahsoka. Additional new titles announced for Disney+ include Andor, Star Wars: The Bad Batch, Star Wars: Visions, Lando, The Acolyte and A Droid Story.

Walt Disney Animation Studios’ projects for Disney+ include Baymax, Zootopia+, Tiana and Moana, The Series, as well as Iwájú, which will be produced in collaboration with the pan-African comic book entertainment company Kugali. Pixar Animation Studios’ first-ever long-form animated series Win or Lose debuts exclusively on Disney+ in fall 2023. Marvel Studios has three new series for Disney+ in the works, including Secret Invasion with Samuel L. Jackson, Ironheart with Dominique Thorne and Armor Wars starring Don Cheadle.