Disney Plus’ “adult” category, Star, is now live in the UK, and hundreds of TV programmes and films have been added to Disney’s streaming service. Here’s everything you need to know about the new content and the improved parental controls – as well as my first impressions.
Disney+ launched in the UK back in March 2020, offering TV shows and movies from the worlds of Disney, Marvel, Pixar, Star Wars and National Geographic.
Today, less than a year after the original launch, Disney+ is adding a more “mature” category, with general entertainment content for broader audiences (as opposed to the very family-friendly content that Disney+ had until now). Star is launching in the UK, and in 16 other countries.
At launch, Star includes over 75 TV series, more than 270 movies and 4 exclusive Star Originals. New titles will be added to the service each month (here’s what’s coming in March), from Disney-owned properties, including Disney Television Studios (20th Television and ABC Signature), FX Productions, 20th Century Studios and more.
The launch lineup, which we published last month, ranges from popular movies and TV shows like Family Guy and Grey’s Anatomy to classics like Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Prison Break and Desperate Housewives, and new originals like Helstrom and Big Sky.
Disney+ Price Going Up
For the past year, Disney+ was priced very competitively, at £5.99/month or £59.99/year. Today, with the launch of Star, that price is going up to £7.99/month or £79/year.
Existing subscribers will get to keep the lower price until August 23, at which point their price will go up as well. If your annual subscription renews before August 23, it will also be at the lower annual price – until it goes up 12 months later.
Since Disney+ has only one subscription tier, you get everything at that price – the entire catalogue (including Star), 4K content and up to four separate screens/streams at the same time.
When compared to the competition, the price is still pretty low – though not the lowest:
Netflix’ Basic Plan, which only gives you SD content, costs £5.99/month, The Standard Plan (with HD content and 2 screens at the same time) is £9.99/month, and The Premium Plan (With 4K content and 4 screens) is £13.99/month.
Amazon Prime Video is £5.99/month (or £79/year if you get the full Amazon Prime membership), and includes 4K streaming, so it will now be cheaper than Disney+ (on a month-to-month basis).
NOW TV is a bit harder to compare, because it has separate plans for films, TV shows, kids and sports. But at £9.99/month for the TV package, £11.99/month for the Cinema package and £3.99/month for the kids’ package– it’s by far the most expensive UK streaming service when you combine the three.
Plus, NOW TV doesn’t offer any 4K content, and you need to pay an extra £3/month for Full HD (1080p).
Disney+ New Parental Controls
Since the new Star category includes adult-oriented content, some were worried that their kids – who were probably the main Disney+ viewers in the family until now – might end up watching something they shouldn’t.
Disney solved that by offering robust parental controls, which will be available from today.
The first time you sign in to Disney+, starting today (February 23), you will be asked to set your content rating, using your password.
You can set a different content age rating for each profile – so your profile can be set to 18+, making all content available – while one kid’s profile can be set to 14+, for example, and another kid will only get access to 6+ content.
To keep your children from going into your profile, you will be able to protect it with a PIN.
Disney+ Star: First Impressions
Later in the week, I’m planning to redo my full Disney+ review, to measure up how things have changed in the past year, and especially with the inclusion of Star.
But for now, and after browsing Star and its content for a bit, I can offer a few initial thoughts.
Since Star is now a new category inside Disney+ (much like Marvel, Star Wars etc. were before), it’s both separated and mixed in. So if you only want to browse Star’s content, you can go into the Star thumbnail.
Otherwise, if you just stay in the Disney+ home screen, some of Star’s shows and films will be integrated in with the content recommendations that you see – “Comedy Series”, “Action and Adventure” – provided you have the correct parental rating.
Disney+ Star’s Content
With Star, Disney+ is finally turning into a full-fledged streaming service, and not just a limited destination for Marvel/Star Wars fans and kids who love Disney shows.
This type of general-entertainment content was sorely missing from Disney+ up until now, and while it’s hard to argue with the numbers (94 Million subscribers around the world in such a short time span), people without kids were sometimes hard-pressed to find something to watch on Disney+.
The list of shows (you can find the full list of Star shows here) is pretty impressive, with some of the highest-rated shows (or at least very popular) in the past couple of decades.
That’s both good and bad. If you’ve missed a lot of these classics (like Lost, 24, Prison Break, Ugly Betty and many others) then you’re in for a treat, with a full library of fun stuff to watch.
However, most of these shows were already available on other streaming services (and some of them still are), such as Netflix, Prime Video and others. So there’s a good chance you’ve already watched many of them.
Disney told us that eventually, the plan is for Star to become the exclusive home for its shows (similar to how the new Marvel and Star Wars shows won’t be available anywhere else) – but we’re not there yet.
In addition, even some TV shows that are still running – like Grey’s Anatomy – will only have their older seasons on Star. Grey’s Anatomy Season 17 (or even Season 16 from last year) is nowhere to be found on Star, and will likely end up with a different provider, like Sky/NOW TV.
So, what about some new TV shows?
There isn’t much there, for now, unfortunately. At launch, there are four TV programmes classified as “Star Originals” –
- Big Sky
- Love, Victor
- Solar Opposites
While these shows are new to the UK – they’re not exactly new. All four previously aired on Hulu in the US, with Love, Victor premiering last June, and the others later in 2020.
In TV and Internet times, that’s a long time to wait for a TV show. By now, “the internet” is mostly done talking about these shows. And to make matters worse, Disney is insisting on airing “new” episodes of these shows week-to-week from now (with 2 episodes dropping on day 1), even though they already finished airing a while back in the US.
That being said, UK viewers are often accustomed to getting shows months and years after their US release, so it’s not something new – but with worldwide same-day releases on Netflix, we know there are better ways to do this.
Still, these are early days. When those four shows debuted, Star didn’t exist yet in the UK, so the test should start now – are we going to get new shows closer to their US release date?
My hope is for Star to eventually become more like Hulu in the US (which is also owned by Disney) – with a library of older shows, as well as new shows that come up for streaming a day after their initial broadcast (Sort of like what BBC iPlayer is for the BBC).
The same goes for the films on Star – they’re mostly older hits and things you’d be happy to re-watch, but nothing too new, for now.
All in all, Star is something that should have been a part of Disney+ from day one. Now that it’s here, is it THE MAJOR reason to subscribe to Disney+, if you haven’t yet? Probably not. But is it an important addition that vastly improves Disney Plus’ value-for-money? That’s a big yes.
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