This week a new front opened up in the vicious, wallet-killing, streaming wars.
The kid friendly/parent refuge that is - or more accurately was - Disney+ finally said, "flag it" and let loose with the big guns to launch a new channel devoted solely to adult content.
Hmm.... 'adult content' sounds a bit rude, doesn't it? Lest you think the House of Mouse has become a house of ill repute let me rephrase that. Disney+ now has a channel with content more suited to an older audience. Cripes, 'older audience', makes us sound like dusty antiques. Grown-ups? Is that better? Not really. But you get the idea. Let's move on.
They've called it Star, presumably because adults will see it twinkling brightly in the dark of all Disney's children's content, and it's absolutely crammed with shows and movies that you wouldn't want young kids clicking on.
We're talking original, high profile shows like David E. Kelley's slick new crime thriller Big Sky, the adult animated series Solar Opposites from the co-creator of cult fave Rick and Morty and the teen drama Love, Victor, a spin-off from popular rom-com Love, Simon which was in cinemas a few years back.
Which are all well and good but where Star really shines is in its deep catalogue of TV and movie hits. Scrolling through the catalogue for the first time I couldn't help but feel the very real threat it poses to my prized-but-space-devouring DVD and Blu-Ray collection. News my partner will be exceptionally pleased to hear.
I was stoked to see that all the Alien flicks and the good Die Hard flicks are available, and mutedly excited to see Wes Anderson's filmography represented. And I was probably a little too happy to see a healthy spattering of 80s classics like Kurt Russell's mystical action hit Big Trouble in Little China, Tom Cruise's sandy rom-com Cocktail and the greatest film ever made, Arnold Schwarzenegger's Commando.
I appreciate these are most likely not the films that will sell you on the service. Fret not. Star says there's almost 450 movies and 155 TV series to choose from. You're bound to find a lot that you'll dig. Especially if you're a fan of 90s and 2000s cinema and television. I'm guessing newer stuff will be drip-fed to keep momentum up in the coming months.
But for now the launch of Star can only be considered a significant power move in the streaming space by Disney. This deluge of grown-up content being a direct result of their buy-out of rival Hollywood studio 20th Century Fox in 2019.
It also fixes my sole gripe with Disney+, as detailed in my column about its launch.
"This is the problem with Disney+. There's nothing to watch," I bemoaned after praising it for throwing open the Disney vaults but finding myself switching off after each new episode of The Mandalorian.
"Will more of Fox's properties be added? When? And once they are, how will the kiddie-safe Disney+ accommodate Fox's more adult-orientated fare?" I pondered, before pleading, "Please don't let the answer be with another app and monthly subscription."
Well, we now have the answers. And they're all good.
Fox properties were added this week, roughly 18 months after launch, and they're accommodated in their own Star-branded hub sat atop the main page. This content is protected behind a four-digit access pin that you're urged to set up when you join. It's easy, tidy and kid-safe. Unless you choose 1, 2, 3 and 4 as your pin, in which case that's on you.
But it was my final question that was the most concerning; how many dollaroonies a month was Star gonna cost? Surprisingly, and pleasingly, not a cent extra if you're already a subscriber. You just get it.
However, if you're new you're looking at $12.99 a month. Yes, that's up from the launch price of $9.99 but you get both Disney+ and Star. Current subscribers have six months "grace" before their subs go up to match the new price.
Even with the price bump it's hard to argue, especially if you have kids. You get all the Disney content, which includes Star Wars, Pixar and Marvel let's not forget, and all the Fox content. It's just a great value proposition.
And, even at the new price it's still undercutting its rivals. Disney+ comes in $1 under Neon's $13.95 and $4 under Netflix's HD fee of $16.99.
Should Neon and Netflix be afraid? No, not right now. Neon shares some of Star's catalogue, presumably from long-standing deals, and Netflix relentlessly pumps out its own original content. It's gonna take Disney some time to ramp up their production machine to catch them.
But there's no doubt that it's now a far more serious, and dangerous, contender than it was this time last week. Shots fired.