UPDATE May 2022: There has still not been even one word from Disney regarding the Star brand in the Caribbean.
This is a follow-up to an article written in early September.
File this under, umm, oops? On August 31st, 2021 Disney launched a new streaming service in Latin American and Brazil called Star+. The service houses Disney’s mature content from brands such as ABC, Freeform, FX, 20th Century Studios, and Touchstone as well as local content and sports. When Disney+ launched in Latin America on November 17, 2020, it appeared in 18 countries – Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Uruguay, Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica, Paraguay, Bolivia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Honduras and Venezuela. At the same time it came to the majority of the Caribbean with the exception of Cuba and US Virgin Islands.
When Disney announced Star+ would launch in 2021 as their General Entertainment service throughout Latin America, it was implied that the Caribbean would be included. After all, they grouped them for the Disney+ launch and at this point the Caribbean countries were the only ones left without the integrated Star brand tile which had appeared in Europe, Australia, Canada, etc. on February 23, 2021. The Star tile basically doubles Disney+ library.
While surveying the reactions to the service on September 1st I could not believe what I had learned: the pre-launch marketing e-mails received by customers in the Caribbean this spring / summer mentioned the Star+ Launch.
Apparently “Latin America” mailing lists did not mention the exclusion of the Caribbean countries. Imagine the surprise of loyal Disney+ subscribers on August 31st when they went to subscribe and discovered that not only had Disney left them out, but they had no acknowledgment or information available for future launch. A very unprofessional oversight.
Since Star+ has launched there has never been any apology to Caribbean Disney+ subscribers or would-be Star+ subscribers. There has been no further information from Disney on any future Star+ launches. While Disney has been sure to keep the shareholders in the loop about their now-slowed down Disney+ rollout, Star+ rollout has never been discussed at all. A one-and-done launch wave is the only thing people expected.
As it stands, the entire planet with Disney+ has the ability to view Disney’s “general entertainment” content whether its via Hulu, Star+, Disney+ Hotstar, or an integrated Star Brand tile (our preferred strategy). Those poor, unfortunate, frustrated souls in countries like Grenada, Saint Lucia, the Bahamas, simply cannot watch American Horror Story, Glee, Ugly Betty, Fresh off the Boat, Black-ish, Make it Or Break It, or Rated R films on a Disney streaming service.
It’s almost as if Disney wants them to become pirates of the Caribbean.
Did Star+ Fail?
We’re not sure what Disney intended to do. A second wave in 2022 seemed likely at launch but it’s odd that they’ve remained quiet. We’re inclined to believe Star+ is failing. This isn’t a controversial theory. There’s plenty of those rumblings online from fellow analysts / journalists / and subscribers regarding the radio silence on Star+ subscribers. Remember, when Disney+ launched they wasted no time in talking about how many subscribers it hit.
How Do People Feel About Star+?
The reaction online when they announced Latin America was getting a secondary service to split Disney’s library was overwhelmingly negative. Here are some of the common responses:
Earlier this year, we spoke with many Latin American and Brazilian subscribers to Disney+ privately and most used terms like “betrayed,” and “used” along with more colorful language to describe how Star+ made them feel. Once the launch details were revealed, 4 out of 5 people we spoke to said it was “too expensive” and some suggested it was disrespectful to people with lower-incomes.
Here is a smattering of responses from the past year.
We’ve also learned that HBO Max has a significantly larger library for a significantly cheaper price. This is one of the ways subscribers have tried to backup their claims that it’s too expensive. It’s believed the sports rights have forced Disney+ to grossly inflate the Star+ cost to a number that is simply not appropriate for the market. However, the Combo+ (their version of the Disney Bundle) makes it much more affordable.
We may be crazy, but we think one cannot rule out the possibility that a planned second wave is or will be scrapped. We don’t see the Star+ service existing in 2025. Disney launched a Hotstar service in the United States in September 2017 and shut it down 7 days ago, just over 4 years later. If the Star brand tile gets announced for the Caribbean you can stick a fork in Star+.
Hopefully we get some news very soon and Disney finds a way out of Star+ in 2022. It would be a costly mistake, but CEO Bob Chapek has repeatedly said they’re in the early innings of a long game and experimenting with their distribution and strategies. Some are destined to do better than others. Besides the convenience for the Latin American subscribers, we hope Star+ is retired because it would greatly increase the possibility of Disney+ USA getting adult titles too. It’s one thing to leave out the USA and all of Latin America. It’s another thing to solely leave out one country. That would be harder for Disney to justify to investors.
Drew Ryan is a film, TV, and Disney geek. He has degrees in English, Student Personnel Administration, and Library & Information Science from Lawrence University, Concordia University-Wisconsin, and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Interested in the minutia and licensing of streaming service content, he is always publishing lists, suggestions, and advocating for Disney’s missing library to be added to Disney+. Drew subscribes to Disney+, Hulu, Netflix, HBO Max, and Paramount+. You can find him waxing nostalgic over classic Disney Channel or geeking out over Marvel, CW shows, & Disney on Twitter.