The Walt Disney Company has revealed the ambitious next steps in its global streaming expansion at its 2020 Investor Day, with new details on the future of its direct-to-consumer services Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+, a first look at its upcoming international general entertainment content brand, Star, and previews of an exceptional slate of all-new content.
Bob Chapek, Chief Executive Officer, The Walt Disney Company, and Bob Iger, Executive Chairman and Chairman of the Board, led the virtual event, which included presentations from leaders of the company’s content and distribution teams, along with financial updates from Christine McCarthy, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, and Lowell Singer, Senior Vice President, Investor Relations.
Bob Chapek, (pictured above), said: “The tremendous success we’ve achieved across our unique portfolio of streaming services, with more than 137 million subscriptions worldwide, has bolstered our confidence in our acceleration toward a DTC-first business model. With our amazing creative teams and our ever-growing collection of the high-quality branded entertainment that consumers want, we believe we are incredibly well positioned to achieve our long-term goals.”
During the Investor Day presentation, the company announced that, as of December 2, its portfolio of direct-to-consumer services has exceeded a total of 137 million global paid subscriptions, including 11.5 million ESPN+ subscribers, 38.8 million Hulu subscribers, and a staggering 86.8 million Disney+ subscribers since its launch in November 2019. After greatly exceeding expectations, The Walt Disney Company shared guidance that it now expects its streaming services to hit 300–350 million total subscriptions by fiscal 2024, driven primarily by a significant increase in content output. Disney+ alone is targeting to release more than 100 titles per year.
Beginning March 26, 2021, Disney+ will be priced in the US at $7.99 per month or $79.99 per year, while the Disney Bundle with Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ will be priced at $13.99 per month. A new agreement with Comcast was also announced, that will bring Disney+ and ESPN+ experiences to Comcast X1 set-top boxes and Flex platforms in the first quarter of 2021, joining Hulu which became available on these platforms in Spring 2020. Additionally, Hulu customers will also be able to subscribe to ESPN+ within the Hulu user interface and access the ESPN+ lineup of sports programming there beginning in early 2021.
Building on the successful launch of Disney+ Hotstar in India and Indonesia, Disney shared new details for its international general entertainment content brand, Star, which will be included as part of Disney+ in select international markets, and launch as a separate streaming service in Latin America as Star+. The Star brand will serve as home to thousands of hours of television and movies from Disney’s creative studios, including Disney Television Studios, FX, 20th Century Studios, 20th Television, and more, enhanced by the addition of local programming from the regions where available.
At the Investor Day event, the visionary creative leaders from the company’s world-class content engines rolled out a new slate of content to fuel Disney’s direct-to-consumer ecosystem. Over the next few years, Disney+ plans to release approximately 10 Star Wars series and 10 Marvel series, as well as 15 Disney live action, Disney Animation, and Pixar series, as well as 15 Disney live action, Disney Animation, and Pixar features—all in addition to the premium content set to premiere in theatres or on linear channels before coming to the streaming service. In addition, it was announced that Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Raya and the Last Dragon will be available on Disney+ with Premier Access in most Disney+ markets, at the same time as it is released in theaters, on March 5, 2021. Premier Access for the title will be priced at $29.99. Internationally, many upcoming original titles from Disney Television Studios, FX and 20th Century Studios will also premiere on Disney+ as Star Originals.
“This incredible slate of new original content reflects our continuing commitment to harness the resources and immense creativity across our company to bring audiences extraordinary entertainment experiences unlike anything else in the market,” Iger said. “We’re proud that the unparalleled quality of our storytelling from our iconic brands remains evident across all distribution platforms, from movie theaters to our direct-to-consumer services.”