Disney may offer a discounted bundle of Hulu, ESPN+ and its new streaming service
Disney may offer its customers the option to purchase a discounted bundle of its three streaming apps — Hulu, Disney’s upcoming streaming service and ESPN+ — according to comments made by Disney CEO Bob Iger during the company’s’ earnings call this week. He said Disney would rather keep the three properties separate, rather than trying to combine them into a more robust “aggregation play,” so as to better address cord cutters’ desire to pick-and-choose the services they want.
The company will own 60 percent of Hulu when its $71.3 billion deal to acquire 21st Century Fox closes. It already owns ESPN, which now offers a streaming service called ESPN+, and is launching its own Disney-branded streaming service in 2019 that will feature Pixar, Marvel, Disney, Lucasfilm (Star Wars) and, eventually, it now says, National Geographic content.
While Disney’s service is meant to be more family-friendly, Hulu will cater to a more adult market. And the plan is to keep those two separate.
Iger had previously said the idea that a bundle could exist in the future wasn’t out of the question, but had not been definite about Disney’s plans in that area.
Now, he’s making it more clear that Disney believes there’s value in offering a discounted bundle of its services, rather than combining all their content under one roof.
“So rather than one, let’s call it, gigantic aggregated play, we’re going to bring to the market what we’ve already brought to market [with the] sports play. I’ll call it Disney Play, which is more family-oriented. And then, of course, there’s Hulu. And they will basically be designed to attract different tastes and different segment or audience demographics,” Iger explained, in response to a question about whether or not it would ever build an aggregated streaming app instead of pursuing the different market segments.
“If a consumer wants all three, ultimately, we see an opportunity to package them from a pricing perspective,” Iger continued. “But it could be that a consumer just wants sports or just wants family or just wants the Hulu offering, and we want to be able to offer that kind of flexibility to consumers…” he said.
In addition to this potential bundling deal, the company took the opportunity to divulge a few more details about Disney’s streaming service this week.
It noted, for example, that it will have less content that its rival Netflix, but its price point will also reflect that — meaning, it will cost less than Netflix.
“We will be launching the Disney app into the market probably in about a year — sometime the end of calendar 2019,” Iger had told investors. “We’re going to walk before we run, as it relates to volume of content, because it takes time to build the kind of content library that ultimately we intend to build,” he said.
“We feel that it does not have to have anything close to the volume of what Netflix…And the price, by the way, will also reflect a lower volume of product,” said Iger.
He also re-confirmed the service’s lineup will initially include a 10-episode, live-action Star Wars series from director Jon Favreau that cost $100 million; new episodes of Star Wars: Clone Wars; and new series based on existing IP like Disney Channel’s “High School Musical” and Pixar’s “Monsters, Inc.”
Plus, the service will stream Disney’s upcoming slate of films like Marvel’s “Captain Marvel,” “Avengers 4,” “Star Wars: Episode IX” and the live-action remakes of “Dumbo,” Lady and the Tramp,” “The Lion King” and “The Sword in the Store.”
“Ultimately, National Geographic will be a contributor,” Iger noted at one point.
According to an NYT profile of Ricky Strauss, the Disney exec charged with programming the new service, it will also include an original film, “Timmy Failure,” which is based on the best-selling book series about a “comically self-confident boy detective.”
The report said that at least nine movies are in production or advanced development, with budgets ranging from $20 million to $60 million.
This includes a period adventure story about a sled dog called “Togo;” a remake of “Three Men and a Baby;” “The Paper Magician,” which takes places at a school for magic; “Noelle,” starring Anna Kendrick as Santa’s daughter; “Stargirl,” based on a young adult novel; and a version of “Don Quixote,” The NYT additionally reported.
There will “probably” be a new Muppets show and Marvel-themed shows, too, it said.