Doctor Who is officially heading to Disney Plus outside the UK and Ireland from 2023.
Previously, new seasons of the beloved British sci-fi series aired overseas on networks such as BBC America, AMC and ABC, as well as the entire back catalog of all Doctor Who episodes, are available to stream on BritBox. However, the BBC announced (opens in new tab) bold new plans to join forces with Disney Branded Television in a bid to “turn Doctor Who into a global franchise”. The series also received a shiny new logo to celebrate the union.
The BBC will remain the exclusive home of Doctor Who in the UK and Ireland, but new episodes – due to arrive in late 2023 – will premiere simultaneously on Disney Plus in the US and Australia. It has yet to be confirmed whether Whovians with an existing BritBox subscription will need to make the switch for the show itself.
A new logo for a new era! Doctor Who returns in 2023 on @BBC in the UK and @DisneyPlus worldwide 🔷✨Read more here ➡️ pic.twitter.com/FlGCp6GA5aOctober 25, 2022
The series’ return showrunner Russell T Davies said in a declaration (opens in new tab) following the news: “I love this show, and this is the best of both worlds – with the vision and joy of the BBC and Disney Plus together we can launch the TARDIS across the planet, reaching a new generation of fans while maintaining our traditional home. firmly on the BBC in the UK.”
Doctor Who has been (almost) a constant on British television since 1963, and Sex Education star Ncuti Gatwa is set to inherit the titular mantle of Time Lord from Jodie Whittaker – or strictly speaking, David Tennant (it’s a long story) – in upcoming special 60th anniversary episodes of the series.
Now, for the first time, these new episodes will be released in over 150 territories in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas simultaneously. The last total Disney Plus subscriber count was 152.1 million.
“We are excited about the opportunity to bring new seasons of this beloved franchise exclusively to Disney Plus,” said streamer president Alisa Bowen.[Doctor Who] is a perfect addition to our growing catalog of global content that continues to make Disney Plus home to exceptional storytelling.”
This is certainly a blow to Disney, whose streaming service – despite its success – has been criticized for placing too much emphasis on shows and movies based on its biggest hit universes. Sure, Disney Plus is great if you like Marvel movies and Star Wars TV shows, but what’s in it for everyone else?
Now at least Disney Plus has another big advantage in its franchise cap to attract new subscribers and, just as crucially, retain existing ones. The upside-down year Netflix has endured so far has likely warned rival entertainment giants against resting on their laurels — and Disney is clearly taking steps to avoid entering an equally precarious period.