A year ago, a sixth general entertainment brand called Star was added to Disney+ worldwide, which added content from 20th Century Studios, FX, Disney Television Studios, Touchstone and more.
When Star was added to Disney+, it instantly doubled the size of the library available to subscribers, with a massive collection of established franchises, popular series and hit films.
Over the past year, every week, countries with Star have been getting new episodes of new original programming plus library additions.
This new content has had a positive impact on the success of Disney+, pulling in more subscribers, but more importantly, Disney CEO Bob Chapek has said that the addition of Star increased the engagement with audiences and reduced how many people unsubscribed.
The original lineup of series has been impressive, with shows like “Only Murders In The Building”, “Pam & Tommy”, and “Dopesick”. Providing shows with mature themes for adults, that can compete with other streaming platforms like Netflix.
However, one year on, there are still some issues that need to be improved, that would make Disney+ even better.
A Clearer Release Schedule
One of the most confusing aspects of the addition of Star has been the release schedule, both with new originals and library content.
Some of the issues have come down to existing contracts in some countries, which have meant that shows like the latest season of “Grey’s Anatomy” or “Family Guy”, can’t be released globally on Disney+ at the same time. But there have been some strange release schedules being used.
Often Disney+ subscribers in Australia and New Zealand are getting brand new shows like “Queens” or “Big Sky” months before the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe. A more straightforward release schedule should be the aim. Not only does this help with confusion but also helps people avoid spoilers.
While Disney+ subscribers in Canada have been struggling to get many of the new “Star Originals”, because new shows from ABC and FX are going to the linear television networks, instead of Disney+.
Things are even complicated with the new “Hulu” Originals. Some original like “Pam & Tommy” and “Vacation Friends” have the exact same identical release schedule on both Disney+ and Hulu. But then there are some shows like “Dopesick”, “American Horror Stories”, “Hit-Monkey”, or “How I Met Your Father”, which were delayed months after their initial US release. Even the second season of “Love, Victor” had a strange Disney+ release, since Disney decided to spread the second season’s release over months, rather than all at once.
International originals such as “Grid”, “Rookie Cops”, “Insania”, or “Snowdrop” have also suffered from random delays, rather than having a single release date. Each region is doing its own thing.
Moving forward, it would be beneficial for Disney+ to align its new original programming schedule globally. It manages it for its Disney+ Originals, but the Star Originals releases are all over the place, and a more unified release schedule makes more sense on a global platform.
Disney+ internationally also suffers from a problem that most US subscribers would love to have. There is so much content available, it can become difficult to find something to watch.
Currently, Star has more films and series than the other five brands (Disney, Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar and Nat Geo) combined and so it can be challenging to have a browse through the films and shows available.
While the idea of a Star brand made sense when it first launched, expanding the hubs to reflect better the content available on Disney+ should be high on their priority list.
Keeping the Star hub for all of the international and licensed content makes sense, but expanding out brand hubs for 20th Century Studios, FX, ESPN and ABC would give Disney’s content more space to spread out. Making it much easier for subscribers to find content. This could be with more hubs on the top menu or just some bonus hubs within the Star home page.
While Disney+ does have some collections for Star, it only has a handful available for some of its main franchises like Die Hard, Aliens and Predator. But many of these were added to Disney+ when it launched, and they’ve barely added any more. However, Marvel has three times as many collections available within Disney+, yet has only a tiny fraction of the Disney+ library.
Disney+ could really use a few more dozen collections, not just for franchises like Kingsman, Diary Of A Wimpy Kid, Night At The Museum, etc. but also themes and genre’s like Adult Animation, Comedy, International, British etc. Other options could include content created by creators like James Cameron, Michael Bay or Ryan Murphy. Other options could be to break down films into decades, like the 80s or 90s.
Even just having something simple like an A to Z for films and series, would be a great way of discovering some of the hidden content available on Disney+. Because as Disney+ continues to expand, it’s only going to get harder to find content.
One issue that Disney has had with Star, is how do they promote it. When Star was added to Disney+, it was almost a way of separating it from the rest of Disney+ so that it wouldn’t confuse people. Ironically, it did just that. Some people thought it was another streaming service. Some thought it was an additional paid add-on to Disney+.
Over the past year, Disney has constantly been changing its marketing to try to reflect what Star content was. Initially, the marketing barely referred Disney+, then the marketing flipped and barely mentioned Star. Most of these changes have been small, and most people might not even notice, but its clear, especially with the negative social media reaction to “Pam & Tommy” and the upcoming “Kardashians” series, the Disney brand still isn’t a natural fit for Star content in many people’s minds, which is why Disney created the Star brand, to begin with. A problem other streaming services don’t have.
A year on, the Star branding isn’t any clearer, it’s just the home for the general entertainment content within Disney+, but that’s it. Maybe if the US gets Star at some point, it might become more of a priority, but right now, Star still feels disconnected.
Now that Star has been part of Disney+ for over a year, what would you like to see Disney+ do to improve it?