Andor will mark a major change for Disney's streaming strategy
This Thanksgiving, you can radicalize your whole family with the anti-fascist epic Andor on TV.
Without lightsabers, Jedi, or bounty hunters in sight, Andor on Disney+ isn’t the flashiest series in the Star Wars franchise. But its down-on-the-ground story with anti-fascist themes has made it one of the most acclaimed currently-airing dramas with a whopping 92 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. It appears Disney is giving it a nudge with a push across its broadcasting empire (ironic) over Thanksgiving weekend.
On Monday, Disney announced it will premiere the first two episodes of Andor, titled “Kassa” and “That Would Be Me,” across Disney’s broadcast, cable, and streaming networks.
The Andor takeover will take place throughout Thanksgiving weekend, with availability on Hulu lasting between November 23 to December 7. The full schedule is as follows:
- ABC: Wednesday November 23, at 9 p.m. ET/PT
- FX: Thursday, November 24, at 9 p.m. ET/PT
- Freeform: Friday, November 25, at 9 p.m. ET/PT
- Hulu: Available from November 23 through December 7
This marks the first time in Star Wars history that one of its streaming-exclusive shows will air on broadcast and cable TV. Admittedly, it’s short history — Disney+ launched less than three years ago in 2019 with The Mandalorian — but it’s history-making nonetheless.
There is a glaring question at the heart of it: Why? That’s actually simple.
While streaming is now commonplace and these episodes are available to watch right now on any internet-enabled device — devices like the thing you’re using to read this article — there’s still something buzz-worthy and appealing in appointment viewing. Notice how millions still tuned in to see House of the Dragon on Sunday nights on HBO. It also matters that Andor will premiere on a platform that easily fosters communal viewing, which makes the timing of Thanksgiving weekend — when families gather under a single roof — extra purposeful.
While these encore airings of Andor may not break ratings records, not to mention how the show’s oddball structure will leave broadcast viewers with barely a taste of what Andor is fully capable of, it still matters that the show is receiving this bump in exposure. That’s despite the fact that Andor is one of the least family-friendly Star Wars things ever.
A prequel that stars Diego Luna as Rebel fighter Cassian Andor from 2016’s Rogue One, Andor is darker and more artistically measured than what is typical from the franchise. The Mandalorian was also celebrated for its dark tone, but it’s dark in the way an M-rated video game is mature to the teenagers playing it. Andor is for adults in how its conflicts of interpersonal tensions and the minutiae of bureaucracy are a touch more nuanced than the lightsaber battles of Luke and Darth Vader or Kylo and Rey.
Without access to Disney’s streaming data, it’s impossible to say with certainty if Andor has been a success or failure for the franchise. Observationally, Andor hasn’t generated the same fan-demonium the way The Mandalorian did, what with its enigmatic gunslinger anti-hero and awww-inspiring Grogu. Even other non-animated shows like The Book of Boba Fett and Obi-Wan have been steeped in some way to greater Star Wars lore and its immortal iconography. Aside from Cassian Andor himself, his show could sometimes be mistaken for an original sci-fi than as something from the expansive universe.
Exposing Andor to new audiences across ABC and FX and other networks might not make it as popular as The Mandalorian overnight. But with the show airing its finale next week, bringing it to the attention of people who otherwise wouldn’t have seen it because it’s buried on Disney+’s atrocious homepage is generally a good thing. It’s simply a good show, and more people should see it regardless of its billion-dollar bankrolling. Fresh off the midterm elections, Andor feels urgent in how it directly reveals the bravery and bloodshed that’s actually required to defeat fascism, or at least disrupt it long enough to live to see another day. You might not win any political arguments with your uncle at the dinner table, but you could get him to see Andor. All you need is a spark to ignite a flame.
Andor is now streaming on Disney+.