Star unveils titles ahead of Feb launch
The Disney-owned international streaming service Star launches February 23 in major territories that aren’t the US (but, specifically: Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore). It’ll sit inside Disney+ in the same way that subscribers now see individual sections for Nat Geo, Star Wars, Marvel, etc.
Eastern Europe, Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea will launch later this year. In June, Latin America will receive Star, but there it will be branded as Star+ and be completely independent of Disney+.
Today we have news about some of the Star launch titles. The two big ones are buzzy titles Love, Victor and Big Sky, which Disney has seemingly held back from sale to international networks.
Library titles include Atlanta, Black-ish, Lost, 24, Desperate Housewives, How I Met Your Mother, Lost, Prison Break, and The X-Files.
As you can tell from the announced titles, the Star shows and movies will be much more adult than the usual Disney+ titles. Several of these titles may be available on multiple streaming services - they won’t all be exclusive to Star.
The Star library will include thousands of hours of TV and movies from Disney studios including: Disney Television Studios, FX, 20th Century Studios and 20th Television.
What I’d like to see confirmed is whether Star is now the default home for all of the new FX series, including the FX On Hulu titles. My assumption is yes, but it would be good to see it confirmed. That would be a huge selling point for the service.
Here’s the UK promo:
I’ll have a much more extensive list of launch titles on the day of launch.
Also, just a reminder for anyone outside the US: The addition of Star will see your monthly Disney+ subscription cost go up a few bucks. My hot tip would be to buy an annual subscription ahead of Feb 23 (which you can make cheaper with discount iTunes gift cards which are usually on sale at Coles every few weeks).
Happy 60th anniversary, Mr Ed
On January 5, 1961 the world was introduced to Mr Ed - a horse, of course. The classic sitcom ran for six seasons, racking up 143 episodes in total. Series producer Arthur Lubin, the director of the popular Francis The Talking Mule films looked to a series of short stories about Mr Ed by Walter R. Brooks for inspiration when pitching his TV show. While it initially ran in syndication, CBS picked up the series for the rest of its run.
Worth noting as well is that the horse that played Mister Ed was played by Bamboo Harvester.
Roku to buy the Quibi library?
This is a bit of a head-scratcher. Roku is rumored to be buying the Quibi library, which includes such classics as The Fugitive series that didn’t feature Richard Kimble or the One Armed Man, that reality show where they built lavish dog houses for less-then-impressed wealthy celebrities, and that game show where contestants had a dish fired at them from a cannon and they had to recreate the meals based on whatever food landed in their mouths.
Sure, I get that Roku wants to bolster its library titles, but outside of a limited number of titles, this isn’t a particularly strong library that makes much sense anywhere outside the crumbled walls of Quibi.
Roku, which sells the most popular streaming-media player in the U.S., is pushing aggressively into content with its own ad-supported app, the Roku Channel, which offers movies and shows produced by other companies. A deal with Quibi would give Roku a roster of exclusive programming.
Under the terms the companies have discussed, Roku would acquire rights to Quibi’s library, the people familiar with the matter said. Financial terms of the proposed deal couldn’t be learned. The deal talks could still fall apart.
Being primarily used short-form content, I can’t imagine that there was a lot of demand for the Quibi library. One assumes Roku got it for a pretty good price…
Read more: Wall Street Journal
Something to keep in mind with the mechanics of the sale:
Complicating the talks … is Quibi’s unusual business strategy. Mr. Katzenberg and Ms. Whitman didn’t pursue ownership of the platform’s content, instead buying exclusive rights from creators to stream their shows for seven years. The arrangement was attractive to producers, who retained the right to later resell the shows to another service, such as Netflix. It is unclear how a sale would affect the rights of content producers.
- Art-house and specialty cinema streaming service Mubi has a promotional deal that gives subscribers 3-months of access for $1. After that the price reverts back to $10.99 per month. Check it out: Mubi
- Emily VanDerWerff makes the case for a 2021 binge-watch of HBO’s The Leftovers. Read: Vox
- ViacomCBS has extended its deal with Disney to keep its channels on the Hulu+Live TV streaming service. Interestingly, Hulu+Live TV is now the 5th largest pay TV provider in the US. Read: Deadline
- Sally Spectra will be one of the characters featured in the upcoming Bold & The Beautiful/Young & The Restless crossover. Source: TV Line
- Elisabeth Vincentelli at the New York Times takes a sad deep dive into Bruce Willis’ filmography from recent years. Read: NYT
- Rolling Stone has a guide to the best cameras to use to record your podcast. Which reminds me… the Always Be Watching podcast is coming back. I’ll have some news on that soon-ish. Read: Rolling Stone
- Looking to prolong your success as a YouTuber? Maybe it’s time to get cancelled. Read: Insider
- Children’s television star Jodie Whittaker is reportedly finished with Doctor Who after she finishes the season currently in production (her third). Read: Variety
Rob McKnight launches Live+
Yesterday morning Aussie TV producer Rob McKnight went public with his plans to launch a streaming service focused on live studio-based entertainment shows. It won’t launch until late in 2021, but right now he’s out there trying to get investors to come on board the $4 million project.
I’m a bit dubious about the project - it’s to be a subscription model charged at AUS$6.95 per month. I just don’t think the market is receptive to yet another subscription service where there is already such intense competition for the audiences time and money.
Rob’s a tenacious guy with a healthy contact book. I’m certain that Live+ will launch - but it’s going to be a massive uphill fight to make this work ongoing.
I spoke with Rob McKnight about his plans for Live+ for the Aus Media Report podcast:
HBO Max preps for international roll-out
It’s one thing to look at the large US streamers and just assume that they can flick a switch and be in 190 countries. And that may have been possible for Netflix that structured its company around international distribution from the outset, but for legacy media companies there are greater challenges.
HBO Max has a global roll-out in mind for the next few years. This will involve two key things:
- How to take its IP, which is very US-centric, and start making movies and series outside of the US.
- Creating better internal structures to facilitate the flow of international HBO series within the larger company. A show made for HBO in Europe isn’t automatically added to the US HBO service, for example.
HBO’s Casey Bloys:
“We’re also going to work to see DC content in other countries outside of the U.S,”
“One of the things that we’re going to do with Max is that all of our international productions will eventually live on Max and we’re going to do a much better job of coordinating between all of the folks programming in Europe, Latin America and Asia so if there’s anything that we’re developing that has real cross-border appeal, we’ll be able to highlight that,” he said.
This comes as Head of HBO Max Global Andy Forssell revealed that it would start rolling out the HBO Max service in Europe next year, building on its plans to launch mid-year in Latin America.
“We will and need to be a global service. It’s an imperative to achieve scale,” Forssell said. “In the second half of 2021, you’ll see us start to upgrade some of the existing direct to consumer HBO services in Europe to HBO Max, double the content, a lot more capabilities, so by the end of the year both of those regions will be very active. The plan is to be in 190 countries, it’s just how fast can we do that roll-out.”
HBO Max next rolls out in Latin America mid-year, with Europe eyed for 2022. No word yet on Australia where HBO still has an output deal signed with local cable company Foxtel.
One Night in Miami… debuts on Amazon prime Video on Jan 15.
WandaVision has a confirmed 9-episode run, which begins on Jan 15. This kicks off the debut of Marvel’s TV output dominating Disney+ - WandaVision will run until March 12 (assuming Disney+ release every episode weekly), which will be followed by the live-action Falcon and Winter Soldier series. That has a six-episode run leading up to the theatrical Black Widow release on May 7. And then there’s the live-action Loki series also starting in May.
That’s a lot of Marvel.
Star Wars: The High Republic is not a TV series or movie, but it is a publishing initiative from Lucasfilm Publishing which covers novels, comics, and middle-grade books. The High Republic era of the Star Wars universe will be the setting for Leslye Headland’s, Star Wars series, The Acolyte.
Chris Rock Total Blackout: The Tamborine Extended Cut debuts on Netflix Jan 12.