Are Viewers About to Get Disney+, Hulu, & ESPN+ in One App?

The Walt Disney Co. is a monster as far as entertainment conglomerates are concerned. They own 80% of ESPN (an initialism for Entertainment and Sports Programming Network) and 67% of Hulu. Right now these entertainment networks, largely owned by Disney, are divided up into three separate applications. 

While the Disney+ bundle offers ESPN+ and Hulu as part of the package the audience still has to toggle between multiple applications on their televisions, PCs, or smartphones, to access the content offered by each service. 

At the Goldman Sachs investor conference, Disney CEO Bob Chapek mentioned the “consumer friction” in the current scenario with the three separate apps, and if he gets his way, the audience may expect to see all three apps clubbed into one. A single platform for Disney’s family-focused shows, general entertainment from Hulu, and ESPN’s sports entertainment-oriented shows.

The California-based entertainment giant has already experimented with a similar combination in Europe where Disney+ has acquired the Star streaming service which had some common shows with Hulu. 

What’s stopping Chapek from moving ahead with the clubbing of three apps? Well, Comcast Corporation owns a third of Hulu and Disney would have to acquire their share before putting Hulu under the Disney+ app. Now, a 2019 agreement allows Disney to buy (actually to force a sale of) Comcast’s shares at a fair market value with the floor valuation being $27.5 billion. But those rights do not come into effect until 2024. 

While CEO Chapek hopes to acquire the entirety of Hulu at a comparatively modest price, Brian Roberts, the CEO of Comcast, has indicated otherwise speaking at the same conference. According to Roberts, Hulu is a “phenomenal business” and if Comcast were to sell its stakes the bidding war will ensure that they do not sell cheaply.

The clubbing of multiple platforms into one is really in trend with Warner Brothers Discovery combining Discovery+ and HBO Max, and Paramount Global considering the merger of Paramount+ and Showtime services. The idea is to make things simpler for the customers. 

Ariaa Reeds

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