Disney hopes to attract more customers to its Disney + streaming service by launching an adult channel.
The Star Channel will debut on the Disney streaming platform on Feb. 23 in original shows such as Big Sky, by Big Little Lies and creator Ally McBeal, David E Kelley, as well as films from Oscar-winning The Favorite to Pretty Woman.
Classic TV series will also be shown, including Ugly Betty and Family Boy, by Hollywood heavyweights like Disney Television Studios, 20th Century Studios, 20th Television, ABC and Searchlight Pictures.
However, additional content will increase the monthly cost of the service by 33%. New subscribers pay £ 7.99 per month, compared to the current price of £ 5.99. From August, all buyers, new and existing, pay a higher price.
In an effort to protect their reputation as a secure provider of children’s entertainment, all Disney + account holders will be asked when Star launches a two-tier parental control system that includes age ratings on individual profiles and pin protection. Parents who do not go through the procedure will feel that their bills have been set for more than 14 years.
Disney + was launched last March and quickly gained acceptance with 95 million subscribers worldwide. Its rival Netflix has about 200 million.
Driven by successes like The Mandalorian, Disney + attracted the largest share of new subscribers in the UK in 2020 with 38% of the total, while Amazon’s Prime Video took a quarter and Netflix 19%.
The lock last year increased the number of UK streamers to more than 32 million, from 3.5 million people signing up for Disney +, 12.8 million for Netflix and approximately 11.4 million for Prime Video.
However, Disney + was primarily focused on the children’s market through its five brands – Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic.
Walt Disney president of Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) Jan Koeppen said Disney + “exceeded even our lofty expectations,” and the decision to increase the adult offering was made after talks with subscribers.
He said: “It’s not surprising that everyone said, ‘We love choice’ … adults among them … said ‘We’d like to have even more choice’ for what they called ‘me time,’ a time when kids went to bed … Here comes Star, a whole new world of TV series and feature films that are more adult-oriented. “
Luke Bradley-Jones, senior vice president of direct consumer and CEO of Disney + EMEA, acknowledged that some parents might have concerns about more adult content at Disney +.
“We want to ensure that Disney + remains a beloved and trusted environment for audiences of all ages, which is why we’ve worked hard on our product plan and got some new parental controls that we’re introducing that are very robust and easy to use.”
Bradley-Jones said the controls will sit next to existing children’s profile features and allow customers to set content ratings and control access to apps and individual profiles, based on those content ratings.
There will be seven different grades, from zero + to 18+. The controls will also allow customers to use the pin “to make sure other members of the household are not watching what is not meant for them.”
The new service will also feature original localized shows, including British-produced and European co-production shows in drama, comedy and screenplay series. There are no plans for live sports.