Disney+ app incorporates Hulu hub in beta launch

Disney on Thursday announced the rollout of its beta version of Hulu on Disney+.

Hulu’s beta integration on Disney+ is first launching to subscribers that pay for a bundle of Disney’s streaming services, with an official launch teed up for March 2024.

At the get go, subscribers of the Disney bundle will see a Hulu tile appear in the Disney+ app, alongside other brand tiles of Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic. This entry point brings users to a “Hulu Hub” where they can watch movies and TV series from the Hulu library without having to leave the Disney+ app.

In announcing the move, which executives previously suggested was coming, Disney Entertainment President of Direct-to Consumer Joe Early cautioned about user expectations early in the beta rollout.

“It’s an exciting next step for Direct-to-Consumer, but it’s important that people have managed expectations about what the experience is going to be,” Earley said.

The company went onto say the beta launch is all about helping Disney better understand what consumers want from Hulu on Disney+ before the official spring launch.  And as Disney+ is a service filled with family-friendly-focused content, the company noted it gives parents time to implement controls and create family member profiles to ensure the household views content appropriate to them. Disney emphasized part of the reason for the two-step approach is to ensure Disney+ stays a family-safe environment.

Earley also pointed to the combination of kid- and adult-geared content within one app.

“There are a few reasons why we think this is going to be an exciting new experience for our subscribers,” Earley said. “Even before the launch of Disney+, research was very clear that consumers want ‘kid time,’ ‘we time,’ and ‘me time.’ I want incredible stuff for my kids, I want to watch things as a family, and then I want to put the kids to bed and watch things that are more adult in nature.”

As for price, with the beta rollout only to Disney Bundle subscribers it looks like users still need to keep paying for multiple services in some capacity, at least for now.  Disney+ and the Hulu SVOD are remaining as standalone apps and the Hulu + Live TV virtual MVPD and premium add-ons will still only be available via the Hulu app. The entirety of Hulu’s SVOD library also isn’t available through Disney+ as of the beta launch. On their own Disney+ is available for $7.99 per month with ads or $13.99 per month ad-free, while the Hulu ad-supported plan is also $7.99 per month or $17.99 per month without ads.

The lowest price for a Disney Bundle is $9.99 per month, which includes ad tiers of both Disney+ and Hulu. The most expensive bundle is priced at $24.99 per month and gives access to ad-free versions of both Disney+ and Hulu, as well as ESPN+ with ads. Earley cited a desire to encourage more signups for the Disney Bundle.

“It’s an unbelievable value in terms of the price point for the Bundle, to get all this content in one place,” he said. “Beyond unlocking that experience for our existing Bundle subscribers, our hope is to inspire Disney+ and Hulu standalone subscribers to upgrade to the Bundle as well, once they see everything that can be accessed.”

In addition to looking to build profitable streaming businesses and monetize content, Earley also said the company believes Hulu on Disney+ will drive increased engagement, and in turn reduced churn.

“When someone goes into Disney+ they have this enormous other world to access and I think that people are going to discover content they never even realized was on Hulu,” Earley stated.

The deeper integration of Hulu with Disney+ comes as Comcast last week cleared a more than $8.5 billion check from Disney to buy out the remaining 33% stake in Hulu.  That initial payment was based on a $27.5 billion guaranteed floor value of the asset agreed to in 2019, but Comcast could still be in store for a bigger payday as an updated valuation process is still ongoing.