In the last article, I said that Hulu will most likely remain a separate service mainly because it generates a lot of money for Disney and because Comcast is keeping ⅓ of all profits as they’re a ⅓ shareholder. In this article, I want to look at the main differences between Hulu and STAR, using that to inform the shape that Hulu in 2024 could take.
STAR vs STAR+
STAR is the name of a brand set to be folded into the Disney+ app as the sixth branded tile. Though a lot of the movies and shows will be primarily from FOX or ABC, the name “STAR” is used by Disney to signify the introduction of adult-oriented content. Imagine all of Disney+’s content exists in the ocean, STAR is merely the boat to carry all of that content down the river and into the sea. For instance, when you enable adult content on Disney+, you’ll find Logan in the Marvel tile. In most regions, therefore, STAR exists within the Disney+ app/website.
In some regions, with Latin America being the first to have it, there will be a separate app/website called STAR+. This is more similar to Hulu in the sense that it’s a whole other subscription needed to deliver the adult-oriented content to subscribers. It’ll also have a live sports integration, which is again similar to Hulu.
A lot of Disney’s domestic shows, Grey’s, Scandal, How I Met Your Mother, LOST, will appear on the different STAR platforms, much like how they do on Hulu. They may in fact be pitched as STAR originals if The Mouse decides to extend or continue some of these digitally.
STAR/STAR+ vs Hulu
The main thing about Hulu is its variety of off-network shows. Because Comcast owns ⅓ of it, they’re able to put a lot of their programming on Hulu and have full series, despite potentially nerfing their Peacock offering. With STAR, all the content will be (or will have been) produced by Disney. Some Hulu shows will also be rebranded as STAR Originals, such as Love, Victor and Solar Opposites.
The biggest difference, however, is that Hulu has a substantial live TV business that rivals the traditional offerings from most providers in the US. Further afield, like the UK, this isn’t the case. For most people in the US, Hulu is how they have access to both a stellar on-demand catalogue as well as the ability to record live shows. The biggest European player in the live TV market is Sky, which may explain why Disney hasn’t gone that way for their STAR offering. Why? Because Comcast fully owns Sky. Comcast wouldn’t be very happy if they okayed a service that wants to cannibalise its Sky platform, especially seeing as they plan on being bought out of Hulu in the long-term.
What Does Hulu Look Like Post-2024?
If it comes down to it, I don’t think that Hulu as it is now will last past 2024. In my view, the live TV option will be relegated to a separate app whilst the content library moves to a branded tile within the US. Therefore, the likeliest outcome is this:
- Hulu content library → Disney+
- Hulu live TV → Hulu+
For the same reasons that the name “Hulu” hasn’t launched outside the US, I think that Disney will retain the name.
So, if the question is whether or not STAR is the final nail in the coffin for Hulu, the answer is: probably, but not just yet. It may be a sign of things to come for Disney+ in the short to mid-term, but Hulu is here to stay in some form at least.
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Until then, happy streaming!