Last month, Disney CEO Bob Iger revealed during a quarterly investor call that they plan on having a one-app experience available within the United States later this year, meaning subscribers to the Disney Streaming Bundle, will have access to some Hulu content directly within Disney+.
Unfortunately, while Comcast still owns one-third of Hulu, Disney isn’t doing a full merger between Hulu and Disney+ just yet, but, this has led many to speculate on what this could mean internationally. Technically, Hulu does operate in Japan, but its a completely separate streaming service, with no connection to Disney.
Currently, Disney and Comcast are going through some legal dealings to sort out some problems with Hulu, including Comcast looking for damages since they claim Disney promised to launch Hulu internationally, but instead, in 2021, Disney launched a brand new general entertainment hub called Star, on Disney+ in many countries around the world, including in the UK, Canada and Australia. This new hub would include content from Disney’s many studios, including 20th Century Studios, FX, ABC, Onyx Collective and Searchlight Pictures. Over the past two years, we’ve seen many Hulu Originals released internationally as Star Originals on Disney+.
When Disney purchased 20th Century Fox in 2019, it acquired Star, which was a major television network and streaming platform across Asia. It quickly rebranded Hotstar into Disney+ Hotstar in India. Disney also rebranded several television channels across Latin America with the Star brand, plus launched Star+, which is a streaming service that is a hybrid of ESPN+ and Hulu. The Star brand was seen as a way of providing mature content on Disney+, but allowed it to be slightly disconnected from the family-friendly branding of Disney.
With the news that Hulu and Disney+ are coming together, many have wondered if Disney might scrap the Star brand and replace it with the Hulu name, or just carry on with the dual branding.
But it looks like we now have a hint of what’s to come, because today, Disney+ Hotstar in India has been given a make an update, adding a Hulu hub within the app.
The Hulu hub offers a wide selection of shows and films, from Disney’s studios including ABC, FX and 20th Century Studios including:
Single Drunk Female
Tiny Beautiful Things
How I Met Your Father
And many more.
This year has seen many changes to Disney+ Hotstar in India, with a new version of the app and the loss of HBO content, but more importantly, the loss of the Indian Premier League Cricket, which has seen millions of subscribers leave.
Over the past year, we’ve also seen Disney slowly fade out the promotion of the Star branding in many countries, including the UK and Canada. Though they still use the Star brand on posters and trailers in Australia and New Zealand.
With Disney+ Hotstar in India getting a new Hulu hub, this is the first major expansion of the Hulu brand outside of the US. It wouldn’t have been a surprise to see Disney drop the Hulu brand completely, but with this new shift in India, it does change things. If Disney starts to use the Hulu brand globally for its general entertainment branding, advertising will become much more similar as a global brand, since it will cause less confusion on social media. So it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see the Hulu branding replace Star, allowing a much simpler global brand for Disney’s general entertainment.
Since Disney and Comcast are locked into a contract, which means Disney or Comcast can force Disney to buy out the other third of Hulu in early 2024, things are certainly becoming a little clearer that Hulu and Disney+ are becoming much more interlinked.
Do you think Disney will replace the Star brand with Hulu internationally? Let us know on social media!
Roger has been a Disney fan since he was a kid and this interest has grown over the years. He has visited Disney Parks around the globe and has a vast collection of Disney movies and collectibles. He is the owner of What's On Disney Plus & DisKingdom.