Disney is bringing its marquee streaming services closer.
The Walt Disney Co. plans to combine content from Hulu and Disney+ into a «one-app experience» by the end of the year, CEO Bob Iger announced on the entertainment giant’s quarterly earnings conference call Wednesday.
Iger said that Hulu and Disney+, as well as the ESPN+ platform, will continue to be available as separate services. North American consumers can currently sign up for a bundle that bundles all three platforms together at a discounted price.
In his opening remarks, Iger called the move «a logical progression from our DTC [direct-to-consumer] offerings that will provide greater opportunities for advertisers, while giving bundle subscribers access to stronger, more optimized content, resulting in higher audience engagement and ultimately leading to a more unified streaming experience «.
The announcement comes after months of speculation about the future of Hulu.
In recent months, analysts have wondered if Iger planned to sell Hulu, which offers a mix of original adult content and older titles drawn from Disney’s library of movies and TV, including assets it acquired in 2019 from studio 21st. Rupert Murdoch’s Century Fox.
Asked for his opinion on the fate of Hulu in a appearance on CNBC in FebruaryIger said: «Everything is on the table at the moment, so I’m not going to speculate if we are a buyer or a seller.»
Disney has a roughly 67% stake in Hulu. The remaining 33% is controlled by Comcast, the corporation that owns NBCUniversal, the parent company of NBC News.
The two corporations have an agreement under which, starting in January, Comcast can require Disney to buy out its stake or Disney can force Comcast to sell its stake.
Disney did not immediately respond to an email asking if it would raise prices for Disney+ and how it would differentiate between children’s programming and adult programming on the combined app.
Hulu has grown in stature in recent years with acclaimed original programming like «Only Murders in the Building» and «The Dropout,» an eight-part miniseries about Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes.
But with roughly 48 million subscribers in North America and virtually no international presence, Hulu lags behind more dominant streaming players like Netflix.
Disney+ has 157.8 million global subscribers, the company announced on the earnings call, a substantial number but 4 million fewer than at the end of last year.