Please welcome guest writer Ethan Holloway! As always with opinion pieces, the ideas expressed may differ from our official stances.
Disney+ has grown to become a dominant player in the streaming market in markets like India, Australia and the UK, but the story in the US has been a different one. In 2021 in markets outside the Americas (excluding Canada) Disney+ added a sixth brand tile “Star” to Disney+ which came with a plethora of titles from Disney and 20th Century Studio’s back catalogue, but countries like the US were left out. Why was the US left out? Simple, because of Disney’s “General Entertainment” streaming service Hulu. So let’s take a look at why Disney+ should be absorbed into Hulu.
Streaming Consolidation Is Happening
Let’s first of all look at something many streaming subscribers will have noticed in the past year or so: Crunchyroll bought by Funimation, Lionsgate looking at spinning off Starz, and Amazon snatching up MGM and Epix. We have had Warnermedia cut down the four different HBO on-demand services to just two and even Disney has slowly started dissolving its smaller services like Hotstar and FX+ into Hulu.
Disney have so far folded Hotstar and FX+ into Hulu and most recently they made it possible to subscribe to Disney’s ESPN+ through Hulu without opening a separate app. At the very least if Disney doesn’t merge the two apps they should offer Disney+ as a Hulu addon.
Hulu Already Has Live TV and A Cheaper Tier
Now if you have followed my work on What’s On Disney Plus you would have seen I have an article discussing if Disney+ will ever offer a cheaper ad-supported tier. With subscription prices on services such as Netflix rising seemingly every year it would be intelligent for Disney to utilise the fact Hulu has a cheaper ad-supported option as a way to make more of a profit off its content.
The Live TV option for Hulu would be super useful for those that still want to catch live airings of Disney Channel, National Geographic, ABC, ESPN and other Disney owned networks. If Disney doesn’t utilise the ad-tier and live TV option which Hulu offers, then Disney should do the same for Disney+.
Hulu DOESN’T Carry The “Disney” Brand
This is the point that makes a Disney+/Hulu merger more reasonable than any other point. With Disney+ you have your five core brands, those being Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic. Hulu has absorbed the Hotstar brand and is currently in the process of becoming the home of library shows for FX, Freeform and ABC.
The reason many series from FX, Freeform and ABC aren’t on Disney+, as well as Hulu, is due to being seen as “Too Mature.” Hulu is said to inherit dozens of films from Disney’s Searchlight Pictures and 20th Century Studios labels, so merging the Disney library within the Hulu library on one app would be better for consumers. People buy services like HBO Max, Netflix, Paramount+ and even Peacock because it offers something for everyone. Hulu could be the same thing for Disney as Disney+ is seen as a niche service.
Now there are a few major problems with merging Disney+ into Hulu despite that seeming like a genius idea. Let’s first discuss the issues of Comcast owning a stake in Hulu. Currently, Disney owns the majority stake and has full operational control of Hulu, however, Disney is rumoured to purchase Comcast’s stake in 2022 (if not Comcast will be forced to sell in 2024).
Disney also has the issue of Hulu’s interface being less than desirable when compared to services like Disney+ or Netflix.
Hulu’s final big issue is that there is a large library of licensed content on the service, especially from NBCUniversal. If Disney is serious about becoming a dominant streaming service in the US, Disney needs to decide whether they want to invest in Hulu or Disney+.
An Autistic Disney, Marvel and Star Wars fan from England. Ethan is an advocate for equal representation in media for people of colour, LGBTQ+, women and people with disabilities. One day he'll be a published author mark his words, but for now, he covers Disney stuff.