Why Disney Is Rolling Out Streaming Services When It Owns So Much Of Hulu

Disney+ streaming service coming in 2019

When Disney decides to go all-in on something, the company dives into the deep end. Therefore, when it comes to streaming, it's no surprise The Walt Disney already owns a stake in Hulu and has two more streaming services, one based around sports and one based around other Disney content, on the way. Now, Disney head honcho Bob Iger has revealed why the company is pushing out multiple streaming services along with Hulu. He said:

What we said when we decided to launch ESPN+ and Disney+ is that rather than creating one gigantic fat bundle of sports, general entertainment programming and family programming, we thought we'd serve the consumer better by segregating all three.

As streaming becomes a bigger and bigger deal, the companies behind some of the major networks have gotten into the streaming business by buying stakes in Hulu. The Walt Disney company owns 30%, 21st Century Fox owns 30%, Comcast (NBC) owns 30% and Time Warner (TBS) owns 10%.

All that’s been clear as day, but in a conference call this week, Disney CEO Bob Iger revealed that as part of the merger with Fox, Disney will own 60% of Hulu, which is not an angle I had personally previously considered when thinking about Disney’s goals with the merger. We'd previously discussed where Disney and Fox programming could go after the merger, but hadn't really gone into the percentage stakes.

The goal obviously is to operate Hulu profitably and we're not going to say how long that might take. That could shift a bit because, at some point, we'll look more aggressively at some international rollouts of Hulu as well. And I think it's also premature to discuss much about Hulu because, until the Fox deal closes, we only own 30% of it. We'll own 60% when the deal closes, and we'll be prepared to talk more, perhaps, about Hulu's strategy at that point.

With so much ownership in Hulu, which already has a built-in audience of subscribers, it’s interesting that Disney will be pushing out two more streaming services which will in some ways be competitors with Hulu. Per Iger, Hulu (which still isn’t making money yet) is more going to be for general Disney/ABC entertainment purposes, whereas the more genre and family-friendly stuff will go to Disney+. If you want higher end streaming for sports, you’ll need to purchase ESPN+.

Now that Bob Iger has schooled us on all the stuff we’ll need to purchase moving forward, my wallet is a little strained, but I at least feel as if I understand the gist now.

Eventually, Bob Iger also says he would like people to use the same “technology platform” to have access to all three products, but we’ll have to wait and see how that pans out. It would certainly be easy and convenient for a lot of cord cutters if it did. For now, Hulu just got a little cheaper, ESPN+ has already launched and Disney+ will be available starting later in 2019. In general, Disney should have a giant year in 2019 and if you aren't up-to-date on all of the company's big movies, streaming and even park openings, take a look at our full guide.

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Jessica Rawden is Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. She’s been kicking out news stories since 2007 and joined the full-time staff in 2014. She oversees news content, hiring and training for the site, and her areas of expertise include theme parks, rom-coms, Hallmark (particularly Christmas movie season), reality TV, celebrity interviews and primetime. She loves a good animated movie. Jessica has a Masters in Library Science degree from Indiana University, and used to be found behind a reference desk most definitely not shushing people. She now uses those skills in researching and tracking down information in very different ways.