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Disney To Start Merging Hulu With Its Own Streaming Service

In 2019, Disney acquired 21st Century Fox in what was one of its biggest acquisitions yet. As part of this deal, they also became majority stakeholders in Hulu, one of Netflix’s earliest competitors. Since then, Disney has built up its own Disney+ streaming service, and so Hulu will start to integrate with Disney+ in 2024.

The Online Gold Rush

Disney’s integration plans are slated to take place when the industry is at its most competitive. Ever since Netflix pioneered video-on-demand streaming in the early 2010s, there has been no shortage of competitors today, with Disney being one of their biggest. While this is a clear-cut case of Disney consolidating its services, skeptics have warned that too many streaming options will harm the industry.

The popularity of video-on-demand streaming is part of a larger trend, which is online entertainment. Alongside video-on-demand streaming, there are also sites offering user-generated video, livestreaming, and iGaming to increasingly large audiences. On-demand content enables users to select their entertainment from hundreds of options, best seen with iGaming sites and the Slingo games they offer. Slingo players can, for instance, take their pick of the dozens of games at their disposal, and have their fill of a library constantly expanding to suit evolving tastes. Users can engage with on-demand content from home, which is partly why streaming services and other online sites have become entertainment hubs today.

Disney’s Involvement With Hulu

Hulu was launched in 2007, before modern video streaming. While Netflix and Blockbuster were still duking it out, Hulu was created as an aggregate of previously aired NBC properties. Co-owned by NBC, MSN, Yahoo!, and a few others, Disney entered the equation in 2009 as a stakeholder, bringing ABC, ESPN, and Disney Channel content with them. That continued for the next decade, during which Hulu pivoted to become a streaming service and one of Netflix’s earliest competitors.

By 2019, both Disney and 21st Century Fox-owned a stake in the service. After the Disney-Fox acquisition, they were left with an outsized majority of ownership. Other owners Warner Media and Comcast relinquished their stakes soon after, ceding full ownership to Disney, though Disney was restricted from buying out Comcast until early 2024. Hulu was welcomed to Disney’s streaming family, alongside ESPN+ and the fledgling Disney+.

Disney’s Planned Hulu Integration

Since late 2022, Disney made it clear that integration was on the cards for Hulu. They have considered merging all streaming services, including ESPN+, into Disney+ due to the popularity and lower churn rate of bundles including all three. With the return of Bob Iger, ESPN’s future has become more uncertain.

Disney stayed the course for its Hulu integration plan, however, as they negotiated an earlier equity buyout from Comcast. One $8.6 billion deal later, Disney bought out Comcast’s remaining 33% on the 1st of December, officially becoming the sole owner. This is why they can begin integrating Hulu into Disney+ at the company’s sole discretion.

Due to the vast catalog of Disney subsidiaries and content partners, Disney+ already has categories dedicated to the likes of National Geographic. Slowly, a beta version of Hulu is being added to the Disney+ homepage. Full integration across all Disney+ services is set for March 2024. This integrated Hulu service will be available for those who have Hulu subscriptions or access to the bundle combining it with Disney+ and ESPN+. In a statement, direct-to-consumer president Joe Earley has urged users to consider the bundle, adding that it offers “unbelievable value” during this integration period.

abubakarbilal
abubakarbilal
Abubakar is a writer and digital marketing expert. Who has founded multiple blogs and successful businesses in the fields of digital marketing, software development. A full-service digital media agency that partners with clients to boost their business outcomes.
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