Hulu on Disney+ launches Wednesday. What you need to know


Subscribers of both Disney+ and Hulu can now access Hulu content through the Disney+ app, as the Burbank media and entertainment giant launched its one-app integration of the two streaming services Wednesday.

Known as Hulu on Disney+, the combined experience brings shows such as FX’s “The Bear” and Hulu Original “Only Murders in the Building” right onto the Disney+ homepage, allowing viewers to peruse those shows alongside already-existing Disney series and movies, such as “The Mandalorian” and “Loki.” Hulu content is also fully merged into search and recommendations.

The Bob Iger-led company announced plans in December to combine Hulu with Disney+ and initiated a beta test to see how viewers would react to the integration.

The move is part of Disney’s plan to increase viewer engagement and reduce churn on Disney+, which has 111.3 million subscribers globally. Disney has lost billions on its direct-to-consumer business as it tries to compete with Netflix, but the company has told investors that its streaming segment will begin to turn a profit by the end of fiscal 2024. Streaming losses have been a key component of a nasty activist shareholder campaign ahead of next week’s annual meeting.

Disney+ has typically served up family-friendly content and major brands such as Pixar, Star Wars and Marvel, whereas Hulu’s offering has been the streaming home of more adult-oriented programming.

Disney executives described the combined app experience as the most extensive technical advancement to the Disney+ streaming platform since it launched in November 2019.

“Watching Hulu on Disney+ is going to be simple, easy and seamless,” Aaron LaBerge, president and chief technology officer of Disney Entertainment and ESPN, told reporters Tuesday. “It’s going to make it stickier and more engaging, which is also going to be great for our business.”

The price of the bundle plan starts at $9.99 with ads.

Here’s what this means for viewers and why Disney wanted to combine the two.

Hulu and Disney+ will still remain as standalone apps

Just because Hulu content will be available on Disney+ doesn’t mean the Hulu app is going away.

Both Hulu and Disney+ will still be available as standalone services, though Disney+ only subscribers will see more in-app options to upgrade to the combined service. Upgrading to the bundle of Hulu on Disney+ will start at $2 more per month, Disney said.

Beta tests of the integrated app showed higher engagement

Though the beta test was more limited than the full combo seen Wednesday, Disney executives were pleased with what they saw.

Engagement with the one-app beta phase “exceeded our expectations across every single metric, with significant growth week over week,” said Joe Earley, president of Disney Entertainment’s direct-to-consumer division.

Those metrics included hours per subscriber, or the amount of time viewers spent watching; the percentage of subscribers who were watching; and the number of titles watched, he said.

“In every way that we were measuring and watching, the behavior exceeded it,” he said.

That’s important because increasing engagement and reducing churn helps to boost advertising dollars.

“It’s whole goal is to make happier subscribers … provide them convenience, deeper engagement, better retention, increase the value of the Disney bundle for our subscribers,” Earley said.

The one-app experience still won’t include Hulu + Live TV

Hulu + Live TV will remain a standalone service “for the foreseeable future,” Earley said, describing the service as “very, very healthy” and “an important part” of the direct-to-consumer system.

Disney will get a taste of what this kind of live content integration could look like in June, when Latin American streaming service Star+ will be consolidated into Disney+, a move that will bring the ESPN networks in Latin America into Disney+.


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