This week, Christine McCarthy, who is the Walt Disney Company’s Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, spoke at the Citi 2020 Global Technology Conference and at the Bank of America Virtual 2020 Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference.
During both of these virtual conferences, she gave some more details on the upcoming streaming service, Star, which will be launching internationally and will include content from Disney’s more maturer brands including ABC, 20th Century Studios, Searchlight, Freeform and FX. This will be launching internationally, instead of Hulu and will only carry content owned by Disney.
During Citi’s conference, she was asked about Star, where she explained what Star is:
I think the best way to characterize Star — and once again, we’re in planning mode for this. We’ll be talking much more about that at the upcoming Investor Day. But when you think about it, it really is general entertainment. And while you can think about Disney+ in utilizing our franchise properties, our legacy properties that we have and building upon them, what we also acquired with Fox were some tremendous creative engines, primarily on the episodic side, primarily television. And there’s everything from 20th Television and these are some new names that they just rebranded.
But 20th Television, ABC Signature, which was the old ABC Studios, Touchstone Television, FX Studios, and they’re all going to produce content for this Star entity, the Star platform. So there will be not — when I say general entertainment, it’s general entertainment that you may have some things that come from our properties or our franchises that’ll be more adult skewing, but it’s really episodic content largely driven by the episodic content engines. Once again, this was a real benefit of the Fox acquisition.
She went onto explain how Star will be different from Disney+, but also tailored differently for different countries. For example, Disney+ Hotstar is currently already operating in India and launched in Indonesia last weekend.
Because we own some episodic content that we will put on the Star service, it’s not just new content, but we can use some of our episodic library content that once again belongs more on a general entertainment platform than a Disney+ platform that is really branded. When you look at those brand tiles, Disney+, it’s a universe of Disney.
The general entertainment of Star will be able to utilize things that were done pre-Fox acquisition from our episodic creative studios as well as what we acquired with the Fox acquisition. So I think you have to look at it that way. But another thing I just want to note is when we’re working through it, we’ve done a lot of research internationally by markets. And believe it or not, you can still do research during COVID. We’ve done quite a bit of it. But Star won’t look the same in every market.
So we will tailor it, how we’re going to market, how we’re launching, how we’re packaging. It’ll all be done on a basis which is appropriate for these major markets outside of the U.S.
More information on the upcoming Star platform and its international road map, will be revealed during Disney’s upcoming Investors Day event, though no date for that presentation has yet been announced. Unlike Disney+, Star doesn’t look like it’s going to be a simple one size fits all platform, as we’ve already seen Disney+ Hotstar launch in India and Indonesia, which contains local content. Which streaming services are required to offer in some regions, she explained:
now that we’re in a streaming world, a lot of the jurisdictions have much more defined local content requirements. So it’ll be a combination of what we will provide, just like when we used to sell content internationally to other people’s platforms. That content will be on as well as local. And once again, there will be the balance. And it depends on what market we’re in, but we know that every one of those markets, they like seeing content that is tailored to them as well as things that can travel around the world.
One key point about Star is “Episodic content”, which would seem to indicate Star is going to focus mainly on TV shows, rather than movies, which Disney+ is very focused on.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek had previously said that Star would be “fully integrated into our established Disney+ platform from both a marketing and a technology perspective”. So will Star be an additional add-on within Disney+ or it’s own app? It looks like Star will look different in nearly every market it launches in, unlike Disney+.
What do you think Star will be?