Why Disney + needs to improve “Star”
On February 23, 2021, Disney launched a general entertainment tab as the sixth “primary brand” on Disney + (outside the United States and Latin America), which offers titles from Disney general entertainment brands such as ABC, FX and 20th Century Studios; this hub is called “Star”.
A recent criticism of the “Star” hub is that it offers so many titles from different networks and studios, that it has become a difficult task to navigate. As there are more movies and shows in the Star brand hub than in the other five brand hubs combined. Plus, it just gets bigger every week.
So let me explain why Disney should improve the “Star” hub and add more “main brands” for content from other Disney affiliates.
All of these new “core brands” that I mention in this article are expected to be added to Disney + around the world.
Sixth base mark: ABC / Freeform
With Disney owning hundreds of ABC branded series, in my home country UK we have ABC shows like “Big Sky”, “Lost”, “Grey’s Anatomy”, “Modern Family” and “Blackish” available through the “Star” brand, so why not give ABC its own dedicated hub? Better yet, Disney could add Freeform content to this section, as the Freeform channel was originally called ABC Family. Now there would be some notable exceptions to this section like “The Muppets” as they are now fully marketed as a “Disney” franchise, along with any other content created for ABC but bearing the “Disney” name on its brand.
Since Freeform is not a global brand per se, so I would add Freeform shows and movies to this hub as well. This would include shows like “Good Trouble”, “The Fosters”, “Single Drunk Female” and “Grownish”, which could integrate with shows produced by sister network ABC.
However, there might be a problem using ABC as a brand globally, for example in Australia there is already another ABC (Australian Broadcast Company) so if Disney were to use the name ABC in Australia then Disney should do some type of deal or rebranding to avoid confusion.
Core Brand Number Seven: 20th Century Studios / Searchlight Pictures
Let’s talk about the obvious, 20th Century Studios should have its own hub, which includes content from other assets acquired as part of the 2019 Disney / 20th Century Fox merger. Disney could use this hub for people to find content from 20th Century Studios, Searchlight Pictures, Blue Sky Studios, and 20th Television. Some titles that Disney could put under this hub include “The Simpsons”, “Avatar”, “Alita Battle Angel”, “Home Alone”, “Mrs Doubtfire”, “The Book Of Life” and “Night At The Museum”.
20th Century has produced a lot of content over the years and has a dedicated hub so you can search their history of classic movies and modern blockbusters, much like you can with the “Disney” hub, so I can’t see not why they can’t do that for 20th century studios. The 20th century needs its own hub because the “Star” hub is too crowded, and 20th century films are mixed with films from Touchstone Pictures, Hollywood Pictures and ABC.
Main brand number eight: FX
This one is probably the most likely to happen, for those unaware that FX is a premium cable channel, similar to HBO. FX became known for its shows such as “American Horror Stories”, “Dave”, “Atlanta” and “What We Do In The Shadows” over the years and used to have its own streaming app called FX + . Now why is this tab more likely than some of the others? It’s really simple, John Landgraf (President of FX) and Rebecca Campbell (Head of Disney Direct-To-Consumer International) both said they want FX to become a “global brand”.
Disney + ‘s sister service Hulu already offers an FX collection, and Disney + has grown globally, so why not give people the chance to experience premium FX content under its own banner? It makes too much sense not to happen.
Main Brand Number Nine: Hotstar
Now I know what some of you are thinking, wait, Hotstar? Isn’t that the Southeast Asian version of Disney +? Yes, but Hotstar is also a standalone streaming service primarily focused on content from Southeast Asian countries, specifically content produced in India. Hotstar operates in the UK, Canada and Singapore as a stand-alone service. The service operated in the United States until the end of 2021, where it was shut down and content moved to Hulu. The reason why I think Disney should use the Hotstar brand on Disney + as a potential way to expose their Hotstar content to new audiences.
Disney owns Hotstar, UTV Communications and Star India and all of their subsidiaries. Disney was therefore able to seize many Indian titles. Among the titles that Disney owns thanks to these acquisitions, let us quote “Chance Pe Dance”, “Kai Po Che! And ‘Fitoor’, all of which could be distributed worldwide through the Hotstar hub on Disney +. Disney has already moved all Hotstar content in the US to Hulu, so why not do the same internationally with the standalone Hotstar service in the other countries it operates in and just add the content under a tab in Disney +? This makes it easier for consumers to enjoy and discover this content around the world.
Main brand number ten: star
Okay, I know what some of you are thinking, but let me explain. This entire article has discussed the new “core brands” within Disney +, which would be used to reduce the amount of content placed under the “Star” banner. So if Disney incorporated the other banners mentioned in this article, what would this potential new “Star” banner be populated with? Basically any content that doesn’t match up with other brands.
If Disney takes this article as advice and incorporates all of these brands, then Disney + would have the following “primary brands”.
- Star wars
- National geography
- ABC (including Freeform content)
- 20th Century Studios (including Searchlight and 20th Television content)
You can now merge Hotstar into this new “Star” tab, which would have the same effect. This tab would be made up of content that does not match the brands over, so shows like “Pam and Tommy” and “The D’amelio Show” as well as upcoming series that are available on Disney + in certain regions like “Snowdrop” and “Tokyo MER”.
Since Disney + hasn’t fully entered the sports space in most countries, creating an ESPN hub can be confusing for some users, but with dozens of ESPN documentaries available on Disney + in the UK, the Star hub could also be a hotbed for this content. Until Disney is ready to add live sports to Disney + around the world, an ESPN hub may be in trouble.
Star could also be a great place to put movies from other mature Disney studios, such as Touchstone Pictures, Hollywood Pictures, and Buena Vista. Disney has used these brands for over thirty years, but now they have 20th Century Studios, they have stopped using that brand, and the TV studios have merged with 20th TV.
They have released Touchstone movies like “Splash”, “Strange Magic”, “Confessions Of A Shopaholic” and “Gnomeo and Juliet”. In addition to Hollywood Pictures movies like “Ernest Saves Christmas” and “While You Were Sleeping”.
It could also be a great place to add third-party licensed content, along with movies and shows made by other companies.
Disney + has always meant Disney “more” more, but its “main brands” never really expressed that. When Disney added the “Star” hub within Disney +, it was as if Disney had added a mini Netflix to its Disney + app. However, the biggest downside has been navigating the “Star” hub due to the amount of content they tag under this banner.
This article simply suggests what Disney can do to improve “Master Brand” collections to make it easier to find content. Personally, I think Disney should have two rows of “main brands” on the home page; in the first row, there would be Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic and Hulu / Star. Disney + is said to have ABC, 20th Century Studios, FX, and Hotstar hubs in second place.
I wrote this to express my frustration with using the “Star” hub. If Disney doesn’t want to give all of the brands listed above their own Disney + tab on the homepage, the least Disney can do is put a mini homepage in the “Star” hub for ABC. , FX, 20th Century Studios and Hotstar.
Either way, Disney needs to make collecting Star content easier to find in Disney +. I have a feeling that doing something at the “Star” hub to make the content easier to find in the hub would be helpful for many subscribers.
What do you think? Should Disney + abandon the “Star” brand?