Sometimes, it feels ironic that Disney created all those amazing cartoons warning us of power-hungry people who won’t stop until they have it all: after all, this could describe Disney itself, which already bought out major IPs like Marvel and Star Wars and shows no signs of slowing down. Now, it seems the company has turned its voracious attention to one of its streaming rivals. According to Variety, Disney will be launching a beta app next month that combines Disney+ and Hulu into a single streaming experience.
Dinsey Is Buying Comcast’s Remaining Shares
The original announcement comes from Disney CEO Bob Iger, so we don’t doubt its authenticity. However, Iger could arguably be jumping the gun in announcing an app that merges Disney+ and Hulu together. That’s because Disney is still in the midst of a major business deal that will make such a merged app a possibility.
Right now, the House of Mouse is still focusing on closing a deal with Comcast that will allow Disney to buy out NBCUniversal’s significant (33 percent) stake in Hulu. Disney has no shortage of cash, and that’s going to come in handy during the buyout: in an official filing last week, the company indicated that it would pay a minimum of $8.61 billion to Comcast for its Hulu stake. The ultimate amount may be much higher because it will be “based on an assessment of Hulu’s market value by each parties’ bankers.”
The Beta App Merges In December
With all that being said, Bob Iger sounded confident that Disney+ and Hulu would soon be merged on a recent earnings call. This has clearly been in the works for a while, and launching the beta app in December is a strategic move: the official app won’t roll out until late March 2024, but a soft beta rollout will let users tweak and customize the app to their own preferences.
Understandably, a big priority for Disney is allowing concerned parents to adjust parental settings (Hulu has a wealth of adult-oriented content that Iger and company don’t want children accidentally streaming on the new app).
Pricing The New App
On paper, combining Disney+ and Hulu into a single app will be a win for fans of both services. Right now, you can get a discount for bundling both subscriptions together, but watching content still requires launching each app separately. A single app will make accessing content easier, and it will hopefully be cheaper than the bundled price for both apps.
Big Win For The House Of Mouse
It’s a bit easier to see what Disney+ will get out of merging with Hulu: this past quarter has seen Disney+ gain four million subscribers, bringing the overall total to 150.2 million. And while the quarter saw the streamer lose $387 million, that’s actually a major improvement over last year (when Disney lost a cool $1.4 billion by the end of the same quarter). Furthermore, Bob Iger said on the earnings call that Disney+ should be on track to “reach profitability by the fourth quarter of fiscal 2024,” and this buyout is likely to be a major part of that.
Can Hulu Save The MCU?
We can only imagine Disney is particularly keen to merge Disney+ and Hulu with growing anxiety surrounding the fractured state of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Getting an injection of Hulu content may encourage users to stick around rather than unsubscribe when they reach the end of the latest muddled MCU event (looking at you, Loki).