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Disney Offers Customers More Viewing Options

By Ahmed Rahma

Walt Disney is set to introduce a new brand, Star, which will feature more viewing options for adults and a higher price for everyone using the Disney+ service.

With the new programming, subscribers will be able to watch more shows from the world’s largest entertainment company, including the ABC drama Grey’s Anatomy, FX’s biker series Sons of Anarchy and Hulu’s Love, Victor, about a teen coming to terms with his sexual orientation.

There will also be R-rated movies, such as the Queen Anne biopic The Favourite and Marvel’s Deadpool 2, which moms and dads can wall off from kids by activating parental controls, Bloomberg reported.

According to the report, the price for Disney+ will increase to €8.99 ($10.87) a month from €6.99 due to the development.

The new Star brand is also being introduced in Canada, Australia and Singapore as a sixth “tile” on the Disney+ home screen, alongside Marvel, Pixar and other labels.

Disney+ has been a runaway success, garnering nearly 95 million subscribers globally.

The challenge now, as the Star launch underscores, is to grow beyond the current customer base of families with young children and adults who love Star Wars and Marvel.

In Europe, the problem is magnified because consumers in some countries don’t have a history of paying for TV. Local streaming rivals are also starting to emerge, including Sky’s Now TV in the U.K., Vivendi SA’s Canal+ Series in France and Nordic Entertainment Group AB’s Viaplay.

“A lot of consumers are looking for relatively low-cost entertainment,” said Richard Broughton, research director at London’s Ampere Analysis.

“Their incomes have been impacted by the pandemic. Now is the time to grab as many consumers as possible,” he added.

Netflix Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. are the leaders in European streaming, and they’ve been active there much longer.

Disney+, at 14 million subscribers, trails Netflix’s 63.5 million, Amazon’s 43.2 million and Apple TV’s 14.8 million, according to Ampere. Disney doesn’t break out its numbers in the region.

The Star launch illustrates Disney’s differing approach to different markets. In India, a Disney+ Hotstar product featuring programs for grown-ups and live sports is already available.

In June, Disney will introduce Star as a stand-alone service in Latin America, with live sports. It will be bundled with Disney+ at a discounted price of $9 a month.

Disney has also announced 10 original series in the works for Star in Europe, a move that appeases countries with local content requirements, as well as consumers eager to see programs that relate to them.

According to the principal analyst at Digital TV Research in London, Simon Murray, ultimately, a library of programs such as espionage series 24 and domestic drama Desperate Housewives may prove a lure for 20- and 30-something consumers who haven’t signed up for Disney+ already.

“There’s quite a war going on there,” but nobody is losing subscribers,” he said.

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