Disney just wrapped up the first segment of an investor day in which it laid out its plans for its direct-to-consumer streaming business, including Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+ and Hotstar/Star.
The company kicked off the presentation with some new subscriber numbers — 86.8 million for Disney+ (roughly 30% of those are subscribers to Disney+ Hotstar, which leveraged an existing streaming service in India), 38.8 million for Hulu and 11.5 million for ESPN+, adding up to more than 137 million subscribers across the company’s streaming business.
The rest of the event is expected to focus on content announcements and previews, but Chairman of Media and Entertainment Distribution Kareem Daniels has already hinted at big plans for the next “few years.”
While high-profile Disney+’s originals have largely been limited to “The Mandalorian” and “Hamilton” in year one, Daniels said the company has plans to launch 10 Marvel series, 10 Star Wars series, 15 Disney Animation/Disney live action/Pixar series and 15 Disney Animation/Disney live action/Pixar feature films exclusively on Disney+.
At the same time, Daniels said that Disney remains committed to a variety of distribution strategies, particularly “theatrical exhibition’s ability to establish major franchises.”
He also announced that the Disney Animation film “Raya and the Dragon” will follow the same distribution strategy as “Mulan” this fall, with the film launching simultaneously in theaters and on Disney+ as a Premier Access release that subscribers will need to pay extra to see.
The presentation also made it clear that the Hotstar/Star brand will be key to Disney’s international growth plans. In Latin America, the company plans to launch a standalone Star+ service, while a new Star section in the Disney+ app will become the home to “general entertainment” content (basically, the kinds of content that U.S. viewers will find on Hulu) in other markets like Europe.
Adding a Star section will mean introducing mature content to Disney+, which was previously limited to family-friendly content. So Disney also offered a quick demonstration of new parental controls that will allow subscribers to turn access to more mature content on and off — that should also introduce new content to other parts of Disney+, for example bringing the R-rated film “Logan” to the Marvel section.
You can also expect to see more integrations between different Disney streaming services. For example, Star+ will include content from ESPN, while Hulu will introduce the ability to subscribe and watch ESPN+ content directly in the app.
And if you’re a subscriber to the Disney bundle, which combines Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ for $12.99 per month, the company plans to add a new tier in January that offers ad-free Hulu for an extra $6 per month.