Plans call for the full rollout of the combined app next March. The launch scheme, initially announced last month during Disney’s quarterly earnings call, comes as Disney is in the process of buying out Comcast’s one-third stake in Hulu and becoming its full owner. It has had 100% operational control of Hulu since 2019.
Subscriptions to the Hulu-enhanced Disney+ start at $10 a month, $2 more than the basic tier of Disney+. Those subscribing to the dual service will see a “Hulu” button alongside those for Marvel, Pixar, Disney, Star Wars and National Geographic.
Several months after launching in November 2019, Disney+ was offered along with Hulu and ESPN+ in the Disney Bundle, but each service remained separate. With consumers chafing at the number of steps required to toggle between apps, pay-TV services and other sources of video entertainment, the push is on across the industry to try to streamline the experience. On the corporate end, these integrations also can reduce expenses across divisions handling technology, programming and promotion. Paramount Global initiated a similar move earlier this year, bringing Showtime and Paramount+ together into a single service.
Disney+ and Hulu will continue to be available as stand-alone services for those not interested in the dual offering.
A newly designed “Hulu Hub,” accessed via the home-screen Hulu tile, will spotlight various film and TV titles in a layout that differs from the Hulu home screen. Parental controls will be a key element of the one-app experience, given sensitivities around Disney’s well-established brand with kids and families. Hulu programming features a number of decidedly adult-targeted series from FX and other suppliers. Existing subscribers will be prompted to adjust their content settings.
Disney CEO Bob Iger said during the earnings call that the beta period would help “prepare parents” for the merging of programming. “We are basically putting it in beta so that we can prepare parents, largely, to basically implement parental controls, because you’ll be able to access Hulu programming on the same app,” Iger said, noting the combo app will bring “upsell capabilities, in terms of increasing engagement.” He continued, “We found that where we bundle, we lower churn.”