The Man Comes Around
Disney will offer a bundle package of its three streaming services — Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ — for $12.99 a month starting on November 12th, the company announced today.
The company previously hinted at a bundle for all three services, but CEO Bob Iger made it official during the company’s investors call today. At $12.99, the bundle is cheaper than or on par with competitive streaming services, including Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. It’s also significantly cheaper than HBO Max’s rumored streaming price of $16 or $17 a month. Hulu is currently available for $5.99 a month (with ads), and ESPN+ costs .
ESPN+ is the Disney-owned sports streaming platform, which carries “hundreds of MLB, NHL and MLS games, Grand Slam tennis, Top Rank boxing, PGA Tour golf, college sports, international rugby, cricket, the full library of ESPN Films including 30 for 30, and more.” It’s also now the streaming destination for UFC fights, which Disney no doubt hopes can make up for the lack of SportsCenter and other banner shows from ESPN the cable network.
The bundle will include the standard, ad-supported tier of Hulu — not the more expensive no-commercials plan or Hulu with Live TV. Presumably Disney will offer a way to upgrade to those pricier Hulu subscriptions.
There are a few other questions that went unanswered on the earnings call. Disney+, for example, will eventually launch in international markets. It’s unclear if that will be the same for the bundle because of regional issues with content. Hulu, for example, is not available in Canada, but Disney wants to bring Hulu to international markets, too. The big question is ESPN+, again because of regional licensing issues. Iger told investors the company doesn’t have “anything to announce right now in terms of markets.”
Most of the interest from investors, however, was still on Disney+. Iger spoke quite a bit about Disney+ during the investors call, referring to the service as “the most important product the company has launched in my tenure.”
“The positive response to our direct-to-consumer strategy has been gratifying, and the integration of the businesses we acquired from 21st Century Fox only increases our confidence in our ability to leverage decades of iconic storytelling and the powerful creative engines across the entire company to deliver an extraordinary value proposition to consumers,” Iger said in a press release.
The streaming services is likely to be available through “Amazon, Apple, and other distributors,” according to Iger. Disney has not finalized any deals with the aforementioned companies, but told investors “we feel it’s important for us to achieve scale quickly, and we think it’s going to be an important part of that. They’re all interested in distributing the product.”
Disney’s goal heading into the direct-to-consumer space is ultimately to provide a ton of content in three distinct areas: general entertainment, family, and sports. The bundle is a way for Disney to offer consumers, many of whom are about to be inundated with multiple streaming services to choose from in the coming months, on top of free online entertainment (YouTube, Twitch), a low-priced option.
“That $12.99 bundle offers consumers tremendous volume, tremendous quality, and tremendous variety for a good price.”