Long rumored but never confirmed, a new app that combines Disney+ and Hulu content is finally on the horizon. Disney CEO Bob Iger made the announcement during the company’s second-quarter earnings call and suggested the new app would be on the market by the end of 2023.
“I’m pleased to announce that we will soon begin offering a one app experience domestically that incorporates our Hulu content via Disney+, while we continue to offer Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ as standalone options,” he said. “This is a logical progression of our [direct-to-consumer] offerings that will provide greater opportunities for advertisers, while giving bundle subscribers access to more robust and streamline content, resulting in greater audience engagement and ultimately leading to a more unified streaming experience. We will begin to roll out this one app offering by the end of the calendar year and we look forward to sharing more details in the future.”
One aspect of the combined app that Iger was particularly bullish about was the “advertising potential” of the new service. “Over 40% of our domestic advertising portfolio is addressable, including streaming, which we expect will continue to grow over time,” Iger said. “We’re also focused on the growth opportunity in programmatic advertising, and we are well positioned to scale as the market improves and audiences continue to grow. We’ve added more than 1,000 advertisers over the past year and now have 5,000 advertisers across our streaming platforms, with over a third buying advertising programmatically today.”
Overseas, Hulu content is available on Disney+ via an age gate or through other services like Disney Star (in India). And an ad-supported tier for Disney+, which was introduced late last year in the United States, will soon be introduced overseas, with the option coming to Europe by the “end of the calendar year.”
“The truth is we have only just begun to scratch the surface of what we can do with advertising on Disney Plus, I’m incredibly bullish on our longer-term advertising positioning,” Iger said.
The price for the ad-free option for Disney+ will be increased later this year “to better reflect the value of our content offerings,” Iger said.
“As we look to the future, we will continue optimizing our pricing model to reward loyalty and reduce churn to increase subscriber revenue for the premium add free tier and drive growth of subscribers who opt for the lower-cost ad supported option,” Iger said.
On the call, an analyst asked if the plan for a combined app was an indication that Disney intended to keep Hulu, in which Comcast has a minority stake. Comcast and Disney have an agreement that allows either Disney or Comcast to compel the sale of that remaining stake to Disney. Disney already has operational control of Hulu.