There have been a ton of headlines over the last day or so about Disney’s new streaming service, which will launch next year and host everything from Star Wars and Marvel movies to spin-off TV series that features characters from those entertainment franchises and more. Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger on a conference call earlier this week finally revealed the name of Disney’s video streaming service — Disney+, as well as the fact it will go live about a year from now.
This sets up 2019 to be a super interesting year as far as streaming content providers go, with Netflix perhaps finally having its hands full warding off its strongest competition yet once Disney’s service is up and running.
The thing is, though, it misses the mark slightly to set all this up as Disney building a new streaming service to directly combat Netflix, because the company is actually going to be squeezing the dominant streaming player on two fronts — with Disney+, but also via a resurgent Hulu, for which Iger laid out an ambitious growth plan this week that calls for, among other things, pumping more money into the service to greatly expand its lineup of original content.
Disney now owns 60 percent of Hulu as a result of its acquisition of 21st Century Fox, and on an earnings call this week with investors, Iger said the combined company’s television production capabilities will be used to “fuel Hulu with a lot more original programming.”
“Given the success of Hulu so far in terms of subscriber growth and the relative brand strength and other things, too, like demographics, we think there’s an opportunity to increase investment in Hulu notably on the programming side,” Iger said.
Budget-wise, Hulu has spent less than half of what Netflix has shelled out to make its originals. Analyst estimates peg Hulu’s content budget at less than $3 billion, while Netflix estimated it would spent $8 billion in 2018. Iger also likely wants to see Hulu known for more breakout original hits than the few it’s had thus far, like The Handmaid’s Tale.
As far as other plans to make Hulu more competitive, Iger hinted at possibly tweaking the service’s pricing as well as international expansion.
“After the deal closes and after we have the 60 percent ownership, we’ll meet with the Hulu management team and the board, and discuss what the opportunities are in terms of both global growth and investing more in content,” he said, referring to the 21st Century Fox deal. “But that’s something that we have to do after the deal closes.”