Kardashians move to Disney, launching streaming content in 2021
December 11, 2020 02:20 PM
Reality television's royal family, the Kardashians, have inked a deal with Disney and will launch new content in 2021 on the entertainment giant's Hulu and Star streaming subsidiaries, the platforms said Thursday.
Disney did not release details about the project, which family matriarch Kris Jenner said in a tweet was a "multi-year partnership."
Content created by the Kardashians will be available in the United States on Hulu, and in markets abroad will stream on Star, Disney's new subscription video service which will launch in February.
It is a strategic shift for the Kardashians, who recently left cable television -- which is declining in the United States -- for a new home on a streaming platform, as the medium becomes increasingly popular.
"Keeping Up with the Kardashians," the program which rocketed the family to fame, has been broadcast on cable channel E!, part of NBCUniversal.
In September, the family announced that the program would end in early 2021 after 20 seasons, almost 14 years after its debut.
A minor celebrity when the show launched, Kim Kardashian has become a global star thanks to the program, on which she built an empire with the help of her mother.
The reality show follows the Kardashians in their daily lives as they navigate family dramas, including falling outs between sisters Kim, Kourtney, Khloe, Kendall and Kylie.
By building successful cosmetics companies off their TV fame, Kim's fortune is now estimated by Forbes magazine at $780 million while Kylie is estimated to be worth $700 million.
Disney+ streaming tops 86m subscribers
Walt Disney chief executive Bob Chapek told investors on Thursday that the company's year-old streaming TV service Disney+ had passed 86.8 million subscribers, beating its "wildest expectations."
The entertainment giant is prioritizing exclusive programming, original shows and movies, and bundled streaming services to build on the momentum of its various offerings which extend beyond Disney+ to include ESPN, Hulu and Star, executives said during an investor day.
"We knew this one-of-a-kind service featuring content only Disney can create would resonate with consumers and stand out in the marketplace," Chapek said of Disney+.
"This success has bolstered our confidence in our continued acceleration towards a direct-to-consumer first business model."
Disney+ competes with streaming television titans Netflix and Amazon Prime in a crowded market for online entertainment.
The streaming service, which will raise its US price by a dollar to $7.99, "has exceeded our wildest expectations with 86.8 million subscribers as of December 2nd," Chapek said.
In a recent corporate reorganization, Disney split distribution from content creation in an effort to be more nimble in its delivery of shows to viewers, according to executives.
Data gathered by Disney+ on audience preferences is shared with creative teams to tailor shows to viewers' tastes, the company said.
"This is especially important now given consumers' rapidly changing consumption behaviors and the prolonged uncertainty due to the pandemic," Chapek said.
Given the pandemic, Disney has planned film premiers on its streaming service and when feasible also at traditional theaters.
- Positioning for 'future growth' -
Regardless of where Disney content premiers, it will end up on Disney+ according to media and entertainment division chief Kareem Daniel.
"While this has been a very tough year for all of us here at Disney, we continue to take deliberate and innovative steps in running our businesses to best position them for future growth," Chapek said.
The company has an array of Marvel, Star Wars and Disney shows lined up for release on its streaming service over the next few years, according to Daniel.
Disney will expand its television streaming services in 2021 to more markets, including Hong Kong, South Korea and Eastern Europe, according to head of international operations Rebecca Campbell.
Disney will also beef up its streaming service in India, where it has a partnership with Hotstar.
"India is a promising market opportunity," Campbell said.
"This is why we decided to launch Disney+ in conjunction with Hotstar to create a truly integrated entertainment experience for consumers in that market."
The streaming offer includes Bollywood films, local programming and Indian Premier League cricket matches, according to Campbell.
Disney also announced a new "Star Wars" film titled "Rogue Squadron." The movie, by "Wonder Woman" director Patty Jenkins, is set in "a future era of the galaxy" and is scheduled for release at Christmas 2023.
The company additionally made public several new TV series within the sci-fi franchise, including two spin-offs from the creators of "The Mandalorian" and the return of Lando Calrissian.