200205 Disney
The Walt Disney Co. logo appears on a screen above the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Image Credit: AP

Los Angeles: Walt Disney Co on Thursday disclosed an aggressive expansion of the Marvel and Star Wars franchises on its Disney+ subscription streaming service.

The entertainment conglomerate said it plans to release 10 new TV series in each of the two franchises over the next few years. Another 15 live-action Disney Animation and Pixar shows and 15 Disney Animation and Pixar feature films will be available on the streaming service.

Customers should expect something new every week, executives said in a presentation to investors.

Since October, Disney+ added 13 million customers and now has 86.8 million subscribers. Including Hulu and the ESPN+ sports streaming services, the company has about 137 million subscribers.

Disney shares rose 2.5% in after-hours trading during the presentation.

Hollywood is closely following Disney’s plans a week after AT&T Inc’s Warner Bros upended the film business by saying it would debut all 17 of its 2021 movies on its HBO Max streaming service on the same day they hit theaters.

Disney is aiming to attract new subscribers to Disney+, the Netflix Inc competitor it launched a year ago, and the company’s other streaming outlets. Netflix, which pioneered streaming in 2007, had 195 million paying subscribers at the end of October.

In October, Disney said it was restructuring the company to put more emphasis on streaming over traditional linear television to better meet customer demands. Next year it will offer a streaming platform overseas under the Star brand.

Cinema chains including AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc , Cineworld Group and Cinemark Holdings Inc are watching to see if Disney, the box-office leader last year, plans big changes to the slate of movies it has set for theaters.

Disney and other studios previously moved some films to streaming because the coronavirus pandemic has closed many cinemas.

Hollywood trade publications have reported that Disney has considered shifting the release of live-action movies including “Pinocchio,” which stars Tom Hanks as Geppetto, as well as “Peter Pan & Wendy,” to Disney+ from theaters.

Disney+ sign-ups have already surpassed the company’s earlier projections.

In April 2019, the company had forecast that Disney+ would attract between 60 million and 90 million customers around the world by fiscal 2024. Last month, the company said it had already hit 74 million as of early October.

Disney+ has been boosted by the popularity of “The Mandalorian” TV series, a “Star Wars” spinoff featuring the character popularly known as Baby Yoda.