Disney CEO Bob Iger says next month’s beta launch of a combined Hulu-Disney+ app will help acclimate families to the concept of Bluey being a couple of clicks away from American Horror Story.
Speaking to Wall Street analysts on the company’s quarterly earnings call, Iger didn’t identify any specific programming or details about how the two services would be separated for parents who prefer that. He said he viewed a demo of the new dual service on Tuesday, announcing that it will launch in beta in December, with the full rollout due in March.
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“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. Assuming those best practices are implemented and the tools work as intended, executives see opportunities in terms of “upsell capabilities, in terms of increasing engagement,” Iger continued. “We found that where we bundle, we lower churn. And again, these are steps that are all taken to make [streaming] a great business.”
Disney last week confirmed it is buying Comcast’s one-third stake in Hulu, which will allow for more leverage in terms of pricing and bundling. Disney+ and Hulu are already part of a successful bundle with ESPN+, though the three are all still separate apps. In an interview with CNBC immediately before the earnings call, Iger called the Hulu consolidation “a great step for the company from a strategic perspective.” He added that it “gives us an opportunity to further connect the dots between Disney+ and Hulu.”
Parental controls have been a key feature of Disney+ since it launched nearly four years ago. While it initially focused on the five pillars of Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, National Geographic and Disney-branded titles and was known for emphasizing families, it has also woven in R-rated fare like Deadpool and Logan.
As far as the company’s overall streaming business, “the building blocks are in place,” Iger maintained on the earnings call. Disney still expects to turn a profit in streaming by the end of fiscal 2024, as it has asserted through many ups and downs. The company has stepped back from the aggressive subscriber targets it first issued in 2019 and then bumped up in 2020.
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