Disney has some exciting streaming services in the form of its flagship Disney+ and sister site Hulu, the latter being where it debuts content that might not be a good fit for the family-friendly Disney brand. The biggest problem with these services though is that we can’t get them in South Africa. At least not officially, unless you do some legally grey VPN switching.
Disney+ is expected to eventually release in South Africa towards the end of 2021, but there has not been any clear plan on when Hulu will be officially making its way to the country. Now it turns out that might not happen at all, as Disney has announced the plans to launch a new streaming service Star, which will essentially be Hulu, but without the third-party content that it currently shows in the US.
The more Asia-focused Star network (comprised of Star India, Hotstar, and Fox Star Studios) was acquired by Disney as part of the $71 billion Fox acquisition early last year. At the time, Disney indicated that it would rework Star going forward. During Friday’s Disney Investors Day presentation, Disney CEO Bob Chapek revealed this new strategy, which is to use Star to stream content from Disney-owned studios like ABC, FX, Freeform, Searchlight, and 20th Century Studios to the rest of the world:
In terms of the general entertainment offering internationally, we want to mirror our successful Disney Plus strategy by using our Disney Plus technical platform, bringing in content we already own and distributing it under a successful international brand that we also already own, which is, of course, Star
The idea is to make Star a free tier for international Disney+ subscribers to allow them to still view the company’s many other properties that exist on Hulu in the US but without the need for a separate subscription. Star will first be available to subscribers in Europe, Canada, and New Zealand with the company introducing a separate Star Plus for Latin American subscribers which will also include some ESPN content. That likely won’t make its way to many other markets given the complicated and expensive nature of sports rights.
It’s not clear what the creation of Star means for the rest of the Hulu brand and if it might eventually fade away or remain just in the US, which is its only major market. My guess is the latter given how it is still popular with many Americans, but then as the streaming market becomes more saturated, it may eventually move over to the Star brand.
And as for whether we will get Star in South Africa, we don’t have any official word just yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it arrives once Disney+ finally makes its way here. Unless our government’s plans change all that entirely.
Last Updated: December 14, 2020