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Streaming is still a major focus of all entertainment companies. And while most have launched their own streaming service, actually making money at it is still something that exists only in the nebulous future. Disney knew from the beginning that Disney+ was going to cost more than it made for a while, and it only expects to be making money on the service about a year from now. It added seven million new subscribers despite a Disney+ price increase, which is a nice start. But another way it hopes to get there is by integrating Disney+ and Hulu and I need this now.
Earlier this month Disney confirmed what had already been expected, that it will be purchasing Comcast’s current stake in the Hulu streaming service and will take full control. Along with that, on yesterday’s Disney Q4 earnings call, as well as in an interview with CNBC, Bob Iger revealed that a “one app experience” is on the way that will integrate Hulu and Disney+ into a single location. This app will be made available in a beta stage next month, with a final version expected in the spring of 2024. Iger said…
In December we will launch, in beta form, a combined Disney+ and Hulu app. And then sometime, probably in late March of calendar ‘24 it’ll launch out of beta. We feel great about it because the combination will give us an ability to essentially lower customer acquisition cost, reduce marketing, hopefully, reduce churn, and most importantly create more engagement.
This is wonderful news. Most of us probably subscribe to multiple streaming services and if you find yourself looking for something to watch, that's going to mean jumping between apps and having to wait for them to load and you just try to find something to keep you entertained. Seeing Hulu integrated into Disney+ will make things easier for anybody who subscribes to both.
The two services will still be available as separate services for anybody who only has one. Iger said during the conference call that one of the reasons the app would be made available in beta was to give people a chance to properly set their parental controls, as obviously, the inclusion of Hulu will mean a massive increase in TV-MA and R-rated content on Disney+. There is already some of that on Disney+ in the form of the more mature Marvel content, but it’s currently just a handful of individual items.
There was no mention of how the combined app might impact what somebody who is paying for both services might end up paying. Disney only recently implemented a bundle option that included both Disney+ and Hulu, but not ESPN+, either with or without ads. It seems likely that the bundle, which does offer a discount, will be the discount for those using the new app. It was likely introduced in preparation for the new app.
There's not a lot of information about this beta period or how it will work. Whether a separate app will be available to all subscribers, or if you'll need to sign up. It may only be available to a few people to start before it gets rolled out. I'll certainly do what I need to try and get access as soon as it's available.