Disney will soon be operating with one consolidated app for its entire streaming catalog. During the company’s second-quarter earnings call, CEO Bob Iger revealed that the House of Mouse would be combining Disney+ and Hulu into one platform including programming from both by the end of the year. All three pieces of the Disney bundle, including the sports streamer ESPN+, will remain available as standalone services despite the change.
While not the full-blown merger some speculated could occur between the two major streaming competitors, it does at least ensure that Disney wants to keep hold of Hulu for the foreseeable future. That’s a bit of a reversal from Iger, who earlier this year signaled a willingness to sell the company’s stake in the streamer with over 45 million subscribers as it looked to reorganize its streaming situation. Granted, Disney‘s fortunes have also reversed since then. Strong earnings from theme parks carried the company to a better quarter than predicted by the Wall Street Journal, but it also helped that the loss of streaming subscribers has slowed since last quarter.
Iger touted the one-app approach as a huge step forward in terms of advertisement since 40% of its domestic ads are addressable. There will be a far more targeted approach going forward by tailoring those ads to particular consumers, but he also billed it as a victory for consumers who are already paying for the discounted Disney bundle:
“While we will continue to offer Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ as standalone options, this is a logical progression of our [direct-to-consumer] offerings that will provide greater opportunities for advertisers while giving bundle subscribers access to more robust and streamlined content, resulting in greater audience engagement and ultimately leading to a more unified streaming experience.”
Hulu Still Faces Questions in the Coming Years Despite the Combined App
Currently, Disney offers options to buy Hulu and Disney+ subscriptions together for a discounted $9.99 per month with ads or all three of Hulu, Disney+, and ESPN+ for $12.99 a month (with ads) and $19.99 a month with no ads and the former two. It’s unclear if prices will change as the company looks to consolidate, though Iger did, unfortunately, confirm another price hike was coming for Disney+. The streamer recently saw prices go up back in December. Streamlining the actual content still seems to be of top priority for Disney too as CFO Christine McCarthy added that content would be cut back as the company takes a write-down of $1.5 billion-$1.8 billion.
Uncertainty still looms on the horizon for Hulu in the coming year. 2024 will see a put/call option open up for both Disney and Comcast, who still owns 33% of the streamer. Disney would have the opportunity to buy out Comcast‘s stake in the business, but that would cost upwards of $9 billion with the streamer valued overall at over $27 million. Iger still seems to be evaluating what the future is there, but he also praised the idea of mixing the “general entertainment options” of Hulu with the Disney-centric programming offered by Disney+. Hulu still has a lot to offer with new seasons of hit series Only Murders in the Building and The Bear along with the continuation of How I Met Your Father Season 2 coming later this year.
Stay tuned here at Collider for more on the Hulu and Disney+ combined app as it nears release.