Star on Disney Plus has launched in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. In case you've missed Disney's extensive social media marketing campaign, here's what it means: you now have a lot more movies and TV shows to watch on Disney Plus, including adult content, and it's included as part of your subscription.
US customers don't get Star, because the Hulu service exists, which covers a similar area of what Disney terms 'general entertainment'.
But you're also facing a modest price rise if you're a new customer – Disney Plus now costs £7.99/AU$11.99 per month, or £79.90/AU$119.99 per year. That's not an insignificant amount, though it is pretty close to the price of a new PS5 game, if you're trying to add the value up in your head.
Still, booting up the app this morning, we're pretty excited about Star. In the UK, 16 seasons of American Dad are available to stream – and to a lesser extent, 18 seasons of Family Guy. All 10 seasons of Futurama are here. This all complements the existing 31 seasons of The Simpsons very nicely.
Shows like Scrubs, Alias, Lost, 24, The X-Files and Prison Break are easy binge watches, even if we've seen most of them kicking around Amazon Prime Video UK over the past few years.
Meanwhile, Star has landed with several episodes of each of its four launch originals. Two episodes of Helstrom, a show orphaned by the end of Marvel's TV division, are here to watch – even though the full season is already available on Hulu in the US. There are three episodes of Solar Opposites, a new animated series by Rick and Morty's Justin Roiland. There are two episodes apiece of Big Sky and Love, Victor, the other two shows on the service. More will roll out weekly, so you have something to look forward to on the platform besides new episodes of WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. More movies are coming each month, too.
So far, we're pretty impressed, and collectively it feels like the issue of Disney Plus not having enough adult shows to watch has been addressed. Meanwhile, the calibre of originals coming to Star on Disney Plus in the coming year – including new shows from FX, like Jeff Bridges spy drama The Old Man and sci-fi series Y: The Last Man – have us hopeful that Star will justify the price rise many times over. Local originals are also in the works.
In tandem with the coming onslaught of Star Wars and Marvel TV shows, it feels like Disney is trying to light a fire under Sky with the weight of all the content it has coming to the platform. £7.99 a month for all of this seems like a great deal so far – but it's even sweeter if you're an existing customer, because you've managed to temporarily avoid the price rise until August 23, 2021.
So, if you haven't checked it out yet, log in to Disney Plus and see what new treats you have to enjoy. Below, we'll talk a bit about the app's new parental controls, and which content is streaming in 4K.
Not everything is in 4K
One of the best things about Disney Plus is that, unlike Netflix, 4K streaming is offered as part of the basic package rather than being charged for on a higher tier. Some of the new content added via Star is 4K – the Die Hard movies, for example, or Independence Day – but not movies like 2018's Oscar winner The Favourite or new Star original Big Sky.
Sometimes it's obvious why something isn't streaming in 4K – we didn't expect to be watching a season of Scrubs from 2002 at a higher resolution – but other times it's less clear. In addition, among the originals, Love, Victor is streaming in 4K while Big Sky is only streaming in HD, according to the app's listings, so it's hard to figure out what the pattern is when it comes to offering this content in Ultra HD. Hopefully that gets ironed out over time.
Still, having the extra 4K content at all is nice considering the modest price bump, and the Disney Plus homepage has helpfully updated its 'Ultra HD and HDR' category to mix in the new offerings from Star.
As ever, the 'Details' button on Disney Plus is your friend – this will tell you if a title supports 4K streaming or not.
How to set up parental controls in Disney Plus Star
If you're launching Disney Plus for the first time since the app updated with Star, this part's very easy. You simply can't enable Star without logging back in to your account – and once you've done so, you'll be asked which profiles to enable adult content for as the account holder. You'll also be asked if you want to create a PIN to restrict access to your Disney Plus profile.
Outside of the app, however, more parental restrictions exist – log in to your Disney Plus account using a web browser (this is the page you want (opens in new tab)), and you can select a content rating limit for titles available to watch on an individual profile. Seven different settings exist. This degree of control means you can completely customise the Disney Plus experience for whoever's in your household.
Here's what the page in question looks like:
From inside the app, you can also click a 'Restrict Profile Creation' button that means the password will need to be entered in order for new profiles to be added to your Disney Plus account.
All in all, that means little Timmy will have to wait until he's allowed to watch Prison Break for the first time.